Have You Considered Pickleball?

TMC Digging A Deeper Well

As the Church of Jesus Christ, what do we have to offer to the world? The whole world—those who packed your pews on Easter Day, those who really meant to get there, and those who couldn’t care less that we were celebrating the Day of Resurrection. What do we have to offer to each person in our sphere?

Churches have lots of thoughts on this, and we’re sure a few of these thoughts have filtered up to your church board.  Some thoughts start with “strengthen” (as in, we really need to strengthen our nursery care).  Other thoughts begin with “change” (as in, change the service time/education time/worship location/worship music/screen location/bulletin size/e-newsletter frequency … and everything will look up).  Startlingly, some thoughts on revitalization introduce the phrase “make a change.” As in, “We need to make a change with (insert staff position here) and then everything will look up.”

Other thoughts that are pressed on your board may be, for lack of a better name, cultural appropriation.

You’ll get more youth if you go on more ski trips…. or whitewater rafting trips.

Why don’t you dump the Ash Wednesday service for a Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper?

Meet at a bar.

Meet at the ballpark.

Meet at the dog park.

Make sure wine is available for the all-church retreat.

And, one of the best … in the midst of a board discussion about shifting the youth ministry away from hiring a staff person to work with youth apart from the congregation, and instead vesting the responsibility for youth ministry in the pastors and adults of the congregation, one sincere board member, trying to come up with alternatives to this major change, offered:  Have you considered pickleball?

Ski trips are fine, and rafting is terrific, if that is your thing.  Most folks love pancakes.  Bars, ballparks, dog parks can all be fun.  No one is speaking against wine.  And pickleball sure seems popular.

The thing is, none of them are the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

As our colleague Beth Daniel wrote so meaningfully earlier this week:

What is the Good News? In this post-Easter week, what Good News do you need to hold on to?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14 The Message)

“’Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:20b)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)

“And He who was seated on the throne said, ’Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5a)

Jesus loves me this I know…

When was the meeting where the church in North America voted that the gospel was not enough?  When did we decide that Easter hope needed a little propping up?  In fact, that meeting has not happened, and the invitation to immerse ourselves, our ministries, our congregations even more deeply in the gospel claims of hope and life and love has never been clearer.

So church boards, a post-Easter word to be wary of offers of pickleball in place of the gospel.  In all your work, visioning, discussions, and prayers, keep your attention on the core of our faith.

Three and a half years ago, in one of our earliest posts, we shared the Yiddish poem “Der Ikker” by Hirsch Oscherovitch.  Its English title is “The Main Thing.”  In this Easter season which has offered the church, again, its main thing, Oscherovitch’s fine poem seems fitting to bring back to mind.

The Main Thing

by Hirsch Oscherovitch


If your outlook

on things has changed –

this is not the main thing.


If you feel like laughing

at old dreams –

this is not the main thing.


If you recall errors

of which you are ashamed –

this is not the main thing.


Even if you know

that, what you are doing now,

you’ll regret some other time –

this is not the main thing either.


 But beware lightheartedly

to conclude from this

that there is no such thing

as a main thing –

this is the main thing.



What have you been tempted to spend a lot of time and energy on as a church board, only to find that it wasn’t the main thing?


What is the main thing in Oscherovitch’s poem?


If you had no impediments at all, what Easter message would you want to proclaim to the world?


From your perspective serving on the church board, what is your congregation’s main thing?


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