Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Going to church at spin class

spin2THERE’S NO offering plate, no Communion cup, and no coffee and donuts afterwards, but sometimes my early-morning spin class reminds me of church. And, no, not because I’m secretly thinking, When will this be over?

But there are some similarities between the gatherings of weekday pedalers and Sunday parishioners. Here are three things I have learned in spin class that have taught me something about church.

Don’t worry about winning. There are no superstars in spin class. Some folks may be fitter than others. Still, they don’t get to ride off ahead and leave the rest of us huffing and panting way behind, feeling a bit inadequate. Somehow there’s room for us all to go at our own pace and yet at the same time stick and finish together.

Don’t try to gauge others’ effort. I don’t know whether the person across the room who hasn’t broken a sweat is simply super-fit or has their bike’s resistance on its lowest level. Similarly, the one with gritted teeth may have the gears set way high. Or, they may be battling a cold. Or, have had one too many glasses of red the night before. Tempting as it is, judging other people’s spirituality on outward appearances, without really knowing their circumstances, is unwise.

Don’t forget the reason. Fun as it is, there’s something slightly preposterous about a group of us pedaling nowhere indoors. While our time together is enjoyable, the real point is that we get to appreciate the rest of our day elsewhere more as a result of being there, because we are hopefully fitter and strengthened.

Now, of course, worship is a good reason of its own for Christians to gather, but not as the sole aim—eternity isn’t going to be just an endless round of favorite hymns. Yet church can too easily become what an old friend used to call “rocking-horse Christianity”: there’s a lot of movement, but you don’t actually get anywhere. Kind of like spinning.

Much as I enjoy our spin classes, what’s even more fun is when Marcia and I get to take our regular bikes out on the cycle paths near our home—out into the wider world. As we go, better prepared through our spin times, I am reminded that the true life of a church, no matter how good the music, is best measured by how it pours out into the community through its members; you may have seen this video illustrating how flow is crucial to life.

With all this in mind, I’m half-tempted to turn up at church one time in my Lycra shorts and clutching a water bottle, rather than my Sunday best. I’m just not sure what my fellow sinners, umm spinners, would make of it.

Photo credit: isabooo via Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND

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