Go for the Gold part 4
Hockey: Some Things We Do Together
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
February 26, 2006
Well, several weeks ago
as I was planning this “Go for the Gold” message series to correspond
with the Olympics, I decided that today would be the day I would talk
about hockey. Little did I know then how painful an experience it would
become. I mean, at the time, I fully expected that Team Canada would be
playing at this very moment in the Gold Medal game.
But alas, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals, and our nation has
been in uproar ever since. How could it happen? We’re Canada. Hockey is
our game. We have the greatest players and the greatest fans in the
world. But our team was sent packing before the medals were even
Now, I know some of you are hockey fans. And I know some of you really
aren’t. You really should get that checked out. And there may even be
some of you who don’t really know if you’re a fan or not. So to help
you find out, here are the…
Top Ten Signs
You are a Hockey Fan:
10. You punish your kids with “minors,” “majors,” and “misconducts.”
9. When you come to a traffic signal and the light turns red, you get
really excited and start cheering.
8. You consider the old Forum in Montreal a place of worship.
7. You keep a picture of the Stanley Cup in your wallet in front of the
picture of your family.
6. You call a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame a “pilgrimage.”
5. You think the Canadian National Anthem is the theme from “Hockey
Night in Canada.”
4. Every March 31, you send Gordie Howe a birthday card. Yet you can’t
even remember your own family members’ birthdays.
3. All your kids are either named Gordie, Bobby or Wayne.
2. Every time you see the name “Roy” you automatically pronounce it
1. You think the proper way to spell the plural of “leaf” is “leafs.”
Okay, so maybe that
helped, maybe it didn’t. Either way, we’re still talking about hockey
this morning. And more specifically, we’re going to look at hockey, and
see what we can learn about what it means to be part of a team. Because
you and I, here at Sunrise, are part of a team. Two weeks ago we looked
at Alpine Skiing and we discovered that there are some things we do
alone. We are individually responsible for our own salvation, our own
obedience, our own attitude, and our own witness. Today, we’re going to
talk about hockey and being part of a team, and how there are things we
do together. It’s true for a hockey team, and it’s true for us here at
Now, every Hockey team has an owner. Someone has to put up the cash.
Even in the Olympics, the country puts up the cash, and so can be
considered the owner. If you are a Christian you have an owner, as
well… God. The Bible tells us…
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
Or don’t you know that your body is the
temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by
God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high
price. So you must honor God with your body.
So in order to be on the team God has to be your owner.
Every team also has a General Manager. In Hockey the General Manager is
the man in charge of the Players. He recruits them and is in charge of
their behaviour. And he manages the affairs of the team. Well, for you
and me, that’s what Jesus does.
Ephesians 4:15-16 (NLT)
Instead, we will hold to the truth in love,
becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his
body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted
In order to be on the team Jesus needs to be the manager of your life,
is he in control of your behaviour?
And third, every team has a Coach. What is a coach? A coach is the one
who instructs, guides, instructs, and trains the players. For you and
for me, that’s the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 (NLT)
But when the Father sends the Counselor as
my representative—and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit—he will
teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have
Is God your owner? Is Jesus your Manager? Is the Holy Spirit your
coach? If not, why not? You can set all of that in place today. You can
accept that God has bought you at a price, you can decide to sign up on
His team under the Management of Jesus, and you can receive the
instruction and guidance that the Holy Spirit is offering for your
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes a team
successful. What are the ingredients of a healthy team? I’m going to
give you four, and you can use the notes provided in your Sunrise
Update to follow along and fill in the blanks. Let’s go. The first
ingredient of a healthy team is…
Ingredients of a Healthy Team:
1. The Team Has
The purpose of a Hockey
Team is to win. Team Canada didn’t get the memo, but that is the
purpose of a team. To win the game, to win the series, to win the
playoffs, to win the championship, to win the Gold. Not the bronze, not
the silver… the Gold. As Wayne Gretzky said…
“Every time you put on a Canadian uniform and play for Team Canada,
anything but gold is not acceptable.”
~ Wayne Gretzky, manager of Team Canada
So a team has the purpose of winning. The church has a purpose as well;
Jesus told His followers what that purpose is when He said…
Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have
That’s the purpose of the Church… to bring people into the Kingdom of
God and teach them what it means to really follow Jesus. That’s what
every Church should be about. As a local church here at Sunrise, we
have expressed that purpose this way…
The Mission of Sunrise:
Sunrise Wesleyan Church exists to introduce
individuals to Christ and to help them grow through meaningful
relationships, authentic worship, and solid biblical truth.
That was the purpose six years ago when Sunrise was just a dream… that
was the purpose 3 ½ years ago when we launched, and that’s still our
purpose today. And it will remain our primary purpose. The wording may
change from time to time, but the core meaning must never change.
That’s why we exist. That is our purpose. That is our goal. Anything
else we may do may be admirable, but if it distracts us from this
primary goal, then we have lost our purpose and we won’t be doing what
we are called to do.
In fact, right now I want to ask you to do something. Do this… close
your eyes for a minute. Close your eyes, and now picture someone you
know who doesn’t know Jesus. It might be a family member, or maybe a
friend, or a neighbour. Maybe someone you work with. Can you see them?
Okay, I’m going to pray, and I want you to pray with me. You don’t have
to do it out loud, but pray. Pray something like this…
Father, I thank you for the new life you offer through Jesus. And I
thank you for the guidance you offer through the Holy Spirit. And I ask
for your guidance today. Help me to reach my friend for You. May my
light shine bright, and may I have the courage to speak to them about
you. In Jesus name, amen.
2. The Team Has
Hockey teams win by
having a strategy they follow. They don’t just go out there and do
whatever. Well, some teams do that, but the successful teams will have
a strategy. They’ll have a plan. When the players get on the ice, they
know what their coach expects of them and they will follow that
strategy, whether it’s an offensive one or a defensive one.
The purpose of an offensive strategy is to score as many goals as
possible, and of course the goal of a defensive strategy is to prevent
as many goals as possible. In the NHL right now, the two best offensive
teams are the Ottawa Senators and the Carolina Hurricanes. Ottawa leads
the league with 223 goals and Carolina is next with 215 goals. The best
defensive team is also the Senators, which has allowed the fewest goals
scored against them with 137, and it’s a tie for the next best
defensive team… the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers have
both limited their opponents to 142 goals. And what’s interesting is
that all of these teams I have mentioned are leading their division.
They have a strategy, they’re following it, and they’re winning.
Now, historically the church has played a defensive game. We try to
prevent the devil from scoring goals. And this defensiveness has even
led to fear… we’re afraid to lose what we’ve got. So instead of trying
to build the Kingdom of God, we’ve opted to play it safe. But that was
not the strategy that Jesus mapped out for the Church. He expects us to
play an offensive game. Jesus said…
Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
“…I will build My church, and the gates of
Hell shall not prevail against it.”
Notice that the church is on the offensive; hell is on the defensive.
Jesus also said…
Acts 1:8 (NLT)
“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere--in
Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
It’s time that the Church stopped taking the defensive and began to
play a more offensive game in order to win. We can’t simply wait for
people to come to us, we need to be going to them. How do we do that?
It needs to start personally. Who did you picture in your mind? Who was
it that you prayed for? And now ask yourself, “What can I do to reach
3. The Team has
a Role for Every Member
In hockey, you typically
have a goalie, 2 defensemen, and 3 forwards on the ice for your team.
So each player plays a specific position and performs a specific task.
For example, the goalies job is to keep the puck out of the net, plain
and simple. And being goalie is a very important job, but not everyone
can be goalie and not everyone wants to be goalie.
Listen to what former New York Rangers goaltender Gump Worsley said in
comparing the profession of goaltending with other jobs. He said…
“The only job worse is a javelin catcher at a track-and-field meet.”
~ former New York Rangers goaltender Gump Worsley
Jacques Plante, the first NHL Goalie to wear a mask… the guy you’ve
seen in the heritage commercials… expressed a similar thought when he
“How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big
red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”
~ Jacques Plante
Some people are goaltenders, but most aren’t. And that’s a good thing.
You can’t have a whole team of goalkeepers, or you’ll never win a game
because you’ll never be able to score. Now, we’re describing the Church
this morning as a team. The Bible doesn’t actually use that term, but
it uses another term that communicates the same type of idea. You see,
Paul tells us that the Church is a body.
Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)
Just as our bodies have many parts and each
part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all
parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And
since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each
of us needs all the others.
In Hockey, the players know their positions and know what they are
supposed to do in their positions. They know what they’re good at, and
they know how they can contribute to the success of the team. In the
church we need to learn that, too. Everyone of us has a position to
play on the team.
Think about it… if you’re at a hockey game and all you’re doing is
watching, then you’re not a player… you’re a spectator. You’re not part
of the team, you’re part of the crowd. If you’re going to be part of
the team, then you need a job. And there are all kinds of jobs to do in
In fact, a few weeks ago Bev and I sat down and we compiled a whole
list of potential ministry opportunities here at Sunrise. And I’m sure
we didn’t think of everything. So if you are unsure of what your
ministry is, then here’s what I want you to do… on your Communication
Card, across the bottom, you’ll see the letters of the alphabet. I want
you to just circle the letter “M”. I’ll pass your name on to Bev,
she’ll be in touch, you can brainstorm together and dream together and
pray together, you can talk about some of the things you enjoy doing
and what your passions are, and you can work through all that and she
can help you discover a meaningful place of ministry here at Sunrise…
something you enjoy and something you’re good at.
4. The Team
Plays as a Team
Over the past four days,
there’s been no end to the debate about why Team Canada lost. It’s been
all over the sports channels, talk shows, the news… even NBC has
repeatedly commented on how devastated Canada must be about the lose.
And while there are plenty of fingers being pointed and lots of blame
going around, I would say the main reason the team lost was that they
never actually became a team. They were a team on paper, but not on the
ice. They just never gelled. So what we ended up with were a bunch of
hugely talented players all playing their own game and never
Phil Esposito, one of the heroes of the 1972 Summit Series, was
interviewed this week after Team Canada lost, and this is what he had
to say about teamwork…
“Unless you become a team, you can’t win. You cannot win as individuals
in the sport of hockey or any other team sport, period.”
~ Phil Esposito
Babe Ruth thought he was talking about baseball, but he could have been
talking about our 2006 Olympic Hockey Team when he said…
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have
the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t
play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
~ Babe Ruth
Now, I should clarify, it was the men who never played as a team. The
women’s team, on the other hand, never played better. Way back last
summer, the women’s team came here to Charlottetown for an intensive
time of training, and they’ve been together ever since. They bonded,
they learned to care for each other, they knew each other’s strengths
and weaknesses, and they really became a team. And they have the gold
to show for it.
From the passage Bev read for us, the Apostle Paul understood that he
was part of the greater team. He understood that he wasn’t on his own…
he was partnering with other believers. To the believers in the city of
Philippi, he wrote…
Philippians 1:3-5 (NLT)
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to
my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full
of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News…
Along the west coast of California you can find huge groves of giant
redwoods. These are impressive trees. Just looking at them they appear
tall and sturdy and strong. But the truth is that their root systems
are relatively shallow. Standing alone, they can easily be toppled by a
strong wind. But in redwood forests, they stand side by side. Their
roots become intertwined and their branches support each other. Not one
of them can stand alone, but together they can withstand hurricane
That’s the way it is with the church. None of us can stand alone. And
we shouldn’t have to. We should work together, we should support and
encourage each other, we comfort and console each other when needed. As
the Apostle Paul was describing the Church as a Body, he wrote…
1 Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer
with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
We need each other. We’re all on the same team. We all have something
to contribute. Some of us are more upfront and some of us are more in
the background, but we’re all essential and we’re all on the same team.
So let’s go out there and win.
Let’s pray together. But
as we do, I should mention that in order to be on the team you need to
sign on with the Owner. In order to be part of God’s Church, you need
to choose to love Him and follow Him with your life. So if you’ve never
done that before and you’d like to sign on today, then I’d like to give
you that opportunity. So before we pray, as everyone has their eyes
closed, if you’d like to sign on to God’s team today then just lift up
of the message adapted from material by Denn Guptill.]