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Home Field Advantage

January 18, 2016

You gotta love home cooking. Show me a successful sports franchise and I’ll show you one that plays well at home. Every team loves the home field advantage. Of the good teams per league: NBA teams win 70 percent of home games, NFL teams win 67 percent, and MLB teams win 65 percent. Why do you think that is? The fields are the same, the goals are the same height, and the same ball is used for the home games as the away games.

I think it’s because the home team is comfortable. Their fans are cheering them on; they’ve got that “this is our house” feeling. Everything surrounding the game is routine, comfortable, and non-threatening. If teams had complete control of their schedule, they’d only want home games.

When thinking strategically in ministry to college students, we tend to take the same approach. We’ve got our convenient buildings and meeting places. They’re comfortable and filled with people who like us and cheer us on. We are wrong, and overall ineffective for it.

I’m guilty of this. I think, “let’s have an event at our building, in our space, at our church, and open the doors for the lost to come in and hear about Jesus.” I’m not contending that this approach is bad, just ineffective in reaching the lost.

In terms of home and away games, we (Christians) tend to hog home field advantage because it feels nice. We invite those who may seek the Lord into OUR comfortable places, forcing them to play an away game. Sports teams don’t want to play away games, and neither do students. Away games are hard.

As our staff team evaluated our years on campus and ran our activities through the, “How did Jesus do ministry?” filter we discovered that while our schedule was packed with home games (where we were excited, comfortable, and happy), Jesus packed his schedule with away games (where He was uncomfortable and didn’t quite fit). In fact, he played almost exclusively on someone else’s turf. Of course he did.

As we thought through this idea and dreamed of a campus where everyone had the opportunity to trust in Christ, we decided to take our show on the road. We scratched our weekly meetings in the old comfortable room and began to run Bible studies at fraternity and sorority houses, local bars, and dance halls. We basically asked ourselves, “Where am I most scared and uncomfortable?” Then we relocated our ministry activity to those locations—a schedule packed with away games.

The Lord has blessed our mind-set and ministry strategy change. We are seeing unbelievable amounts of non-believers showing up to hear about Jesus. It’s scary, but there is a ton of joy and excitement!

Think about it like this: if you are playing an away game, then the people you are trying to reach with the gospel are playing a home game. They are comfortable, they fit in, and they are happy and excited to be there. Their hearts are in a great place to hear about how a relationship with Jesus can change their lives.

I want to encourage you to think about scheduling away games. Our buildings are cool to us, easy, and very comfortable, but those outside of Christ aren’t walking through those doors. They aren’t playing away games. But perhaps they will play a home game. Will you take your show on the road?