Super Bowl lesson: Use struggles as opportunity

Leave it to a pastor to find encouragement for churches in a Super Bowl victory speech. And that’s exactly what Alan Rudnick does in his Feb. 6 blog post, “Churches, listen to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.”

But to be fair, Rudnick wasn’t just using his pastoral and theological training and experience to read between the lines of the talk Foles gave after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFL championship Feb. 4.

Foles was the team’s often-disparaged backup quarterback until late in the 2017 season. Few guessed he had the talent to lead the Eagles to victory in many games, much less a Super Bowl match-up against the New England Patriots.

In a post-game video, Foles urged viewers to be unafraid of failure in life, regardless of how public or painful the setbacks may be. He added that he is aware of his flaws.

“I’m not perfect. I’m not Superman,” he said.

But Foles, a Christian who said he has considered leaving football in the past, said he knew he wasn’t alone in his personal and gridiron battles.

“That’s where my faith comes in. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that it’s an opportunity for your character to grow.”

And that, Rudnick notes in his blog post, is the message struggling congregations need to hear.

They need to embrace the idea that they can make adjustments — i.e., changes — just as Foles did in his playing career, said Rudnick, executive pastor at DeWitt Community Church in Syracuse, New York.

“Churches face challenges today that they have never or rarely faced before,” Rudnick wrote.

“Declining attendance, shrinking membership, fewer donations or shifting attitudes about religion, churches cannot afford to keep doing what they are doing. It doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, churches are often the last institutions in our culture to make changes.

One of the obstacles for churches is not wanting to fail or appear to fail, Rudnick said. It’s natural, since funds and fresh ideas often are hard to either come by or let go of.

That’s where Foles’ message of progressing through trial and error is so powerful, he said.

‘Learning what doesn’t work’

“It’s not that you are failing,” said Rudnick. “You are learning what doesn’t work right now. So, try some other things.”

The difficulties facing churches are real. The goal for churches isn’t to minimize the challenges, but rather to avoid, or cease, being defined by them.

“Be the church instead of meeting a budget,” he said.

“But if you do nothing for your church or ministry, that church or ministry will diminish into nothing.” (BNG)