Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Thanking the Faithful in Church

By the time you read this Super Bowl XLV will be history.

In addition to the famous Vince Lombardi Trophy which is awarded to the winning team, each player on the winning team will get an $88,000 bonus. Losers get about half that amount. This is the minimum bonus guaranteed by the NFL Players Association. Other star players and MVPs might have millions more written into their contracts.

In addition to the cash bonus, which must be paid within 15 days, the NFL pays for the cost of 150 rings to the winning team, at roughly $5,000 each. These rings are typically made of yellow or white gold with diamonds. They usually include the team name, team logo, and Super Bowl number.

Not everyone with a Super Bowl ring is a superstar. The winning team can typically present rings to whomever they choose including but not limited to players (active roster or injured), coaches, trainers, executives, personnel, and general staff.

Many players have multiple rings although some say they contributed little to the winning cause. They all shared one great gift--a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and staying there. It could appear that they barely lifted a finger to earn the ring.

I suspect that every person who has a ring deserves it. Some players might have played a minor or no role in the actual games but they were essential to having meaningful practice sessions and to provide depth in the lineup in case of injury. Professional football is big business requiring a huge support staff behind the scenes to care for day to day operations, promotion, personnel, legal and financial matters, and a host of other things. These persons do not receive the attention of the fans or the media but they are vital to the operation.

That is true in every organization including the church.

In every church there are people who work very hard to be sure the ministry of that congregation continues. They help with the bulletins, clean the facilities, keep the nurseries, answer phones, serve as ushers and greeters, follow up with visitors, visit homebound members, maintain membership rolls, care for the property, drive the church van, accompany children and youth on field trips and retreats, prepare Wednesday night supper, provide financial support, sing in the choir, build and repair homes, pray for the needs of the congregation, arrange the altar flowers, prepare communion elements, pick up trash left after worship services, prepare mailings, make phone calls, plan activities, teach classes, staff soup kitchens and homeless shelters, go on work missions, cut grass, repair equipment, offer technical support, and the list goes on.

Most of these folks are invisible to the average church-goer. They often get little or no recognition or affirmation. But if "Super Bowl rings" were awarded for church work, they would be entitled to one as much as any senior minister or lay leader. They earn them every day.

Look around your church. Who are the people who are vital to the life and ministry of the congregation where you work or worship? Find a way to thank them for their service. One day they will hear the Master say, "Well done!,' but it would be nice to hear it from some of the church members now.

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken by permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Feb. 7, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]