Find out the score!

by Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

September 16, 2003

As an avid baseball fan I have become so dependent on the scoreboard. I not only desire the information it provides me but also I seem to have a real need for it. photo of Pastor Jaynan Clark EglandTo know every minute of the game the number of balls and strikes thrown, the speed of the pitch, how many outs there are, in which inning the runs were made . . . these all help me know what is happening and to stay engaged. How can one watch a batter at the plate without knowing the position he plays, his batting average, the number of RBI’s and stolen bases he has thus far in the season and how he is performing in the current game? All this is available information on the scoreboard to all who have eyes to read; and there’s even more to hear as the announcer adds comments.

Depending on the layout of a stadium, there are some ballparks where your seats may be located in a section where you cannot physically see the scoreboard. All that information is unavailable to those “people in the seats.” Each of them is left to try to keep track of the whole game on their own. It can become frustrating and confusing and after awhile one can feel “disengaged” from the whole ordeal and wander off to his or her own personal musings and daydreams. One’s attention seems best held when he or she knows and can observe accurately what is going on. Otherwise he or she is just a lonely bystander.

As I sat day after day at the churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I realized there really wasn’t a scoreboard or an informed announcer to keep me abreast of what really was happening. Many in attendance seemed disengaged and were limited in their participation because they felt like lonely, uninformed bystanders. Upon my return from Milwaukee, numerous people inquired regarding the current status of their church. What was the score? How many runs, hits and errors were up there on the board? What were the batting averages of our church’s leaders with regards to their attentiveness to the scriptures and confessions?

A few are asking these questions but the majority of “people in the seats” just sit there. They aren’t participating in the wave. They aren’t cheering or booing. They no longer even jump to their feet and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. They are disengaged. Their participation is limited because they don’t know what is going on, who is on first or what’s on second. They just observe that errors are being made all over the field. The ball is being dropped repeatedly and the best players for our team all seem to have left the game, been retired or traded.

To all you lonely, uninformed bystanders who really care about what is going on out on the field—your church—you just can’t depend on a visible scoreboard to give you the pertinent information. There isn’t a seat in the housefrom which you can read it; heaven knows where those seats are. You have to engage yourselves. You have to try to concentrate on what is going on right in front of your eyes and get involved. Get out of your seats! Make some noise? Volunteer to participate in the event itself.

“People in the pews,” rise up out of your seats!Your voices, your votes, your participation are sorely needed. Plan now to participate at the next major league events—churchwide assemblies of the ELCA—in 2005 and again in 2007.

Nobody really knows the score but the game isn’t over, yet.