Tunnel Vision & Community

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 6 a.m. during a seventh-grade basketball practice at Clymer Central School and our coach, Coach Mac, was shouting to us as we ran through our scrimmages, something he did often. Coach McMullin was our school’s high school football coach, but after the season ended he would coach 7th and 8th-grade boys basketball, bringing his tough approach from the field to the court as he sought to hammer into us the fundamentals of basketball.
That morning, fatigued as I was from the early wake-up and intense physical conditioning, I remember him shouting and stopping our play with his whistle to impart upon us another lesson (we had many teachable moments). This day, the lesson was to keep our heads up and our eyes open so we could see the full court.
He said, “Some of you get tunnel vision when the ball is in your hands. You begin to focus on the basket, put your head down and think only of yourselves. Whether you are trying to be a ball hog [read:selfish] or not, opponents swarm you because they know you aren’t going to pass it, overwhelming you and forcing a turnover. You have to see your teammates and play as a team.”
Even though he was just talking about basketball, like much of Coach Mac’s wisdom, I have carried it with me to this day.
I mention this story because a couple weeks ago, Chassity and I, along with our 11-month-old daughter, attended the New Room Conference in Franklin, TN. The conference, hosted by Asbury Theological Seminary’s publishing arm, Seedbed, is completely focused on gathering those who long to see another great awakening. The conference emphasizes prayer, creating new faith communities, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us so that our communities and countries might be revived and renewed by God.
Besides having world-renowned pastors and church leaders who speak and lead break-out sessions, it is also a tremendous opportunity to connect with others passionate about seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ transform lives. Like-minded Methodists, Anglicans, Wesleyans and Salvationists (Salvation Army) in particular all meet and share together, encouraging one another and seeking to work together for God’s glory. Since Asbury is my alma mater, it is also a great time to reconnect with friends, professors, and classmates.
I need events like New Room because if I am honest I can get tunnel vision, not just in basketball but in life and ministry. I get so consumed by what I am doing that I put my head down, push hard toward the goal and stop seeing and hearing my teammates. I end up playing alone and inadvertently make myself an easier target for the enemy. And even if I am not actually defeated, there are times when I certainly feel like I am surrounded and overwhelmed.
What I need is the blow of a whistle to snap me out of it. Each year, God has used New Room to do just that, to help lift my eyes, to see my teammates and band together with them. Each year I have come away encouraged, refreshed and renewed, excited for what God is doing around the world and what I believe He will do in our community. It has helped me keep my head up and my eyes open, something I so desperately need in my walk with God and as Rooted Community Church begins to form and take shape here in Whitestown. The conference is a wonderful reminder that we are not in this alone and has encouraged me to maintain my connection with a core group of guys who I share prayer, encouragement, and accountability with weekly.
So let me ask, “Do you ever get tunnel vision? Do you find yourself playing alone?” Maybe you are like me and find that if you aren’t careful you naturally want to put your head down and just try to push through, but in doing so you begin to ignore those who matter most to you. It could be from your own selfishness or simply because you just get stressed from it all. You feel lonely and alone.
If that is you, I’d encourage you to reach out to a local group of Christ-followers who can blow the whistle in your life, helping to encourage and guide you through the turbulent times. Maybe you need something like New Room, but more importantly you need teammates in life.
And of course, if you are in our area, we’d like to invite you to be a part of Rooted. One of our core values is connection because we believe God created us for relationship, with himself and others. Even if you are just exploring and aren’t so sure about this whole church thing, we’d like to invite you to come and take part. We hope you’ll find that this fledgling community shows you love, respect, encouragement, and truth.
Even if you are far from Boone County, Indiana, we know that we still need you, so we ask for your prayer for this community, for the church plant, and for everyone involved. If you are interested in knowing more specific ways you can be in prayer for the plant, or how you can financially support the endeavor, you can get more information here.
Until next time, keep your eyes open and your head up.

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