Pre-season Paining

With rugby season just around the corner, pre season paining training (for us referees) has just begun. Judging by my general lack of fitness, I should have started months ago. Yet with 10 weeks to go until Round 1, not all hope is lost for moderate levels of fitness come season proper.

Fitness training, as a group of referees, has not always been a thing in our association. It is a ‘new’ initiative of our executive this year. I’m pleased to run around with the other referees and help each other to work on our general fitness. But the primary benefit for training, in my view, is not the fitness.

Through the year, and particularly come finals time, we work together in ‘teams of 3’ the referee and two assistants. Each persons plays their role and works together to facilitate a good game. The only problem is, it’s hard to work with someone you don’t know. The more time we spend together as a group now, the better we will perform at the pointy end of the season.

Cohesion as a group is by far the best contribution training has to our association.

It was fascinating last night (whilst gasping for air) to notice the rugby club who hosts us on a Thursday already in full swing. The Season is still 10 weeks away, and they had a good 50-60 men and women training. The clubhouse was open, the barbecue was firing. A real sense of community, belonging and camaraderie was in the air.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I expect to see them go deep into the finals this year, not because of their fitness, but because of the community they have worked hard to create. It seems to me as an outsider that men and women of that club want to work hard for one another. More than just loyalty to a brand, there seems to be a genuine sense of love for one another.

Imagine instead a team who only rocked up on a Saturday 10 minutes before kickoff, introduces themselves to each other on the halfway line. Never train during the week and see the 80 minutes on game day as the only time that matters.

If these two teams met during the competition, I know who I’d be backing.

But this is precisely the attitude many Christians have toward church. The 80 minutes on Sunday morning are the ‘only that matter’.This narrow view prevents members from embracing real community, prevents outsiders from encountering true gospel community, and sadly in many cases, prevents them from hearing the good news of Jesus.

Church is not a building, but a people. Church is not an event, but a gospel community.

The more time we spend together outside of “game day”, the better cohesion we will experience. The better we will work together as a team. And the more likely we are to be winning at something that matters.

Jesus victory over sin and death, opens a way for us to be in community with the creator of the universe and each other in ways previously not possible. We have the tools to create the best community possible, why do we let that slip?

Are we really going to let community groups ‘out-church’ the church?

I hope not.

“Physical training is of some value,  but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” – 1 Timothy 4:8


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