Why CrossFit is Working Better Than Your Church
I am part of the cult, I admit it. I am a CrossFit fanatic. I love how effective it is at shaping my body, how difficult it is, the atmosphere, and the constant steep learning curve. So, this blog will be heavily biased to that effect. But first, let me drop some numbers on you.
CrossFit had 13 affiliates (boxes/gyms) in 2005. Want to know how many there are now? 10,000 and growing. That is on par with Starbucks level growth. Every single one of these affiliates is independent except for some key factors. You want to know what the failure rate of opening a CF box is? 2%. That’s right. If you open a CrossFit the likelihood that you will stay open, is 98%. The year on year growth of attendance and TV watchers of the CrossFit games is 166%. CrossFit has effectively broken the back of the fitness industry.
So, why is this working so well? Imagine if in North America, the church planted 10,000 successful communities of believers in the last 10 years? I think there is something to learn here.
Here’s the thing, you don’t walk into CrossFit thinking, “Man I just want to listen to some jams on my headphones and then hit on some girls, maybe Ill sit on the bench press for 45min”. You know its going to be aggressively difficult. It’s going to push you, your skills, you mental capacity for pain. You know what? It’s the same price and many times more than a luxury gym per month.
The other thing Greg Glassman (founder of CF) did that was absolutely genius. He created simple guidelines and insanely potent DNA. To the point where I can literally spot a cross fitter from across the room. He let go of control but made sure the DNA was strong and the language stayed to same. He made all information and knowledge openly available. “Constantly varied functional movement” is the main motto. But the main idea here, is the central hub of Crossfit let go of control, and simply started trying to make affiliate owners successful. They would just have to pay central for training and licensing.
Now, lets check out Matthew 6:24 to see how Jesus called people to follow him.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Jesus knew what would work. Do you think people already living a mundane life want another mundane religion? One that is just average that requires little of them and profits little for them?
You know why people won’t shut up about CrossFit? Because it’s hard, and they pay a premium, and it works. The community aspect is simply a byproduct of collective suffering. Torn up hands, laying on the floor, wondering “what is my life?”. But you get to share that experience.
Want people to talk about Jesus more in you church? Call them into difficulty, into suffering, into spiritual discipline and transformation. Stop on ramping people and tell them the truth you already know. This thing is difficult, but Jesus defeated death. We will suffer, but we share in that with Christ. Yes people will hate you and get annoyed by your obsession with Jesus, but it will pay off in huge rewards eternally.
The greatest danger to our churches today is that we sell the gospel short. It’ll be easy we infer. We would never say it out loud because that’s not true. More than likely though, when someone decides to follow Jesus, literally all hell will break loose in desperation to claim them back, or at least silence them.
So here’s what I propose. Call people into following Jesus like he called them. Make it real, earthy, spiritually enlightening, difficult, but by his centrality and presence, absolutely transformational. People won’t shut up about something that.
57As they were walking along the road, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 59Then He said to another man, “Follow Me.” “Lord,” the man replied, “first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You, however, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Still another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first let me bid farewell to my family.” 62Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”