Monday, November 18, 2013

When ESPN Comes To Church

Yesterday, we had a pretty unusual experience at the Old Hickory Church of Christ during our Sunday morning service: ESPN showed up and filmed the whole thing. I'd love to tell you the reason why is because of our hard hitting Bible lessons and high-impact classes. But truthfully, it's because of a family at our congregation whose story they are making a special about.

There are several members of the Gaines family over the years who have been successful athletes, particularly in football. Brad Gaines will always have a special place in football history from his time at Vanderbilt when a bad hit led to Chucky Mullins' paralysis, and later death. It was Chucky who hit Brad, and ended up injured, but knowing what happened to Chucky as a result of the collision weighed heavily on Brad. Brad is a person of deep faith, and he has made regular visits for decades now, down to the site of Mullins' grave to honor his memory and show his respects. The story of Brad and Chucky is touching, and later next year, there will be a special on Brad as a 30 for 30 short film. That was the occasion for the filming. They are telling Brad's story, of which his faith is a central part. I appreciate their willingness to highlight this aspect about him. If you want to learn more about this story, you can see one of the previous specials here.

I'm sure I'll be talking about the 30 for 30 short film when it is released. But I wanted to talk about the experience of having ESPN film our worship service, because it was enlightening for me in some ways I hadn't anticipated. They were polite and appreciative, but there was a crew of about 6 people running around with boom microphones and large professional cameras. It was a very different experience. They would run up and get close ups of the people on the stage, and at one point, stood a couple of rows in front of me, panning the camera around at our faces as we were singing. It didn't prevent me from paying attention, but I never ceased being aware of the rolling cameras all around us. 

For me, this was a great wake up call to how many people have probably come in and out of our doors. Much like the big cameras, these people have also been watching. I think for most of us, we were determined more than ever to sing well, to pay attention, to sit up straight, to be friendly...all the things we know we ought to do. But the added reminder that people are watching...maybe even thousands of people...was a powerful motivator. When I am aware that people are watching me, I learned, I put a lot more effort into what I'm doing. 

So here's a reminder to you all: no matter where you are or what you're doing, someone is watching. Your actions tell a lot about what you think, what you feel, and what you care about. You should never do things for the sole purpose of appearances, but you should also remember that in general, perception is reality. Regardless of what is going on inside of you, if you don't make it perceptible, people will never know.

We feel so blessed that because of this good family, our congregation has an opportunity to represent our faith before a potential multitude. Realistically, I'm sure our time on screen will probably be seconds at most. But when you are aware that any second might be the second that millions of others could see, you live each second more deliberately.

Live like it matters, and do things you'd be proud of to see again later.

Something to think about.


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