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Recently, I underwent a six-week long fitness challenge that guaranteed a loss of twenty pounds or five percent body fat.  These results were achieved by following a strict meal plan and participating in Crossfit classes at least three times a week.  During this time, I not only wanted to lose weight but also wanted to see what Crossfit was all about. I used this time to ask God to reveal to me things about community, health and fitness, and myself.  One of the biggest things that I took away was what the Church could learn from Crossfit.

Crossfit is a culture, a lifestyle.  People don’t typically sign up for Crossfit on a whim like they would with some other gym.  People sign up for Crossfit because they have bought into the culture. A major part of that culture is the community.  Every workout is designed to push you to your limits. Sometimes it is you versus the clock, or you versus your previous score, or you and a partner fighting to accomplish the required work.  But every workout it is you in the trenches with everyone else in the class. That builds community. Every class we would gather up and introduce ourselves, and it didn’t matter that most of us were in the same class together multiple times a week, we still introduced ourselves and typically answered an interesting question.  Every class we got to know each other a little bit better. Every class people would hang around and cheer on the last person finishing. I know because often I was one of those last people finishing. Crossfit is all about community, and more than that, Crossfit feels like a family. We as a Church get too consumed in our own lives, our own problems, that we forget to get to know the people in the trenches with us.  I know I’m guilty of it. Honestly, there are times when I will meet a new person and I have forgotten their name as soon as they have finished saying it. We need to put aside our natural “me” tendencies and grow our community.

In any good community, accountability happens.  Part of this challenge was accountability. Every week I would have a chat with my coach to talk about my progress.  Luckily, I continually progressed, but if I had stalled or gained weight, my coach would have known immediately that I was not sticking to the plan.  He would have called me out on what I was doing wrong and helped to get me back on track. Accountability is a popular word in church circles, but it is an action that is difficult to accomplish.  People say they want accountability, but when the honest questions start getting asked, it’s easier to give up and walk away. Accountability is hard because it takes honesty on two parties, one willing to ask the difficult questions, and one willing to tell the truth.  If we were more accountable with each other, think of the work that could be accomplished for the Kingdom. When people are honest and accountable, people grow and start to carry out that in others.

What if we took more time to focus on getting to know the new person that walked through the door, instead of thinking about lunch while we are shaking their hand?  What if we hung around to encourage the person who is struggling, instead of racing to our car to beat traffic out of the parking lot? People feel welcomed to workout at Crossfit because the trainers and everyone in the class are genuinely there because they want to see lives changed for the better.  How often is that the case with church attendance? Shouldn’t that be the case? Shouldn’t we as Jesus’s followers desire to see everyone’s life be changed by the life-shaping power of the gospel? Maybe I am preaching to the choir here, and maybe I am convicted because I have seen myself become lax in recent years, or maybe we could all stand to grow in building community and fostering accountability.  

When you see a new person at church, talk to them.  Genuinely. Get to know some of their favorite things.  Get to know some of their struggles. If you don’t have an accountability partner, get one.  If you already have someone keeping you accountable, find a person to keep accountable. Imagine the unstoppable force that would sweep through our churches, our communities, and our nation, when we put ourselves aside and focus on others.