I have another confession to make:
I like toy cars.
Not just any toy cars, but R/C (or radio controlled) toy cars. And I don’t just like playing with them in the yard, I like racing them, competitively, on a race track.
They’re not really toys either, they are serious racing machines.
Nobody can tell me otherwise.
It’s probably a genuine addiction, one that dates back to my teens when together with my dad and brothers, we got into the hobby. We all grew up as a motorsport-loving family, but R/C cars are a little more affordable (and safe) than racing full-sized cars. It’s continued for 25 years now.
Truth be told, if I could afford it, I’d be racing the full sized version. R/C cars are however, a good substitute. The same technical aspects, the same competitive nature, the same challenge of beating race track and the competition, and of overcoming one’s own weaknesses and mistakes. At a fraction of the cost.
There are a lot of us who race R/C cars. Most of us keep it quiet. After all….grown men (and a few women), playing with toy R/C cars? Something’s not quite right about that….surely?
A few weeks ago, I got together with a bunch of others to compete for the title of “Tasmanian Champion”. Not only did people come from around Tasmania to the race, but flew in from all corners of the country. We’re nothing if not serious about our toy R/C car racing.
We raced on a purpose built race track, in a facility built specifically for the hobby of R/C car racing. The event took three days to sift out the true contenders for the Championship.
As much as we raced hard on the track, we had a lot of fun in the pit area in between races. New friendships were formed, old mates re-united. One of the guys who came over from Victoria I last met on a race track nearly 20 years ago. It was very cool to catch up with him.
There at the race track there are a bunch of people (who are mostly motorsports nuts) playing with toy R/C cars. More than that, there is a community. There are friendships, there is hospitality, there is sharing of resources, supporting friends when life is tough. There is laughter, frustration, excitement and anxiety. All shared.
There are young guys being coached and mentored. There are older guys sharing their experience. There are books, websites, magazines dedicated to sharing information, helping R/C car addicts learn more about their hobby. There are families competing together.
There are people volunteering, taking on jobs so that the club, the organisation, and the race meetings can run smoothly. Funds are raised to improve the facilities, people give from their own finances.
There is a leadership team, helping to shape the environment at the club, coordinating activities, drawing newcomers into the hobby.
And there is adrenaline. Boy is there adrenaline. It might seem strange to those of you who don’t share the addiction, but to race against a competitor, inches apart, for anything up to 45 minutes…well it’s pretty exciting. It’s a buzz. An experience, a feeling even, that’s hard to put into words.
And there are even some people inviting their friends along, sharing spare cars so that others can taste and see that R/C is good. Not all of us do that of course….some aren’t quite sure how to tell our friends about how much fun playing with R/C cars really is. Some of us are a little nervous that if people find out we play with toy R/C cars, they might think we’re a little weird.
In my day job, I work with local churches, exploring many similar themes. Hospitality. Relationship. Commitment. Sharing stories. Caring for each other. Enjoyment. Leadership. And occasionally even a little adrenaline.
I sometimes wonder what life in a church might be like if the members had the same passion, the same excitement for the Christian life or community, as most R/C car racers I know have for their hobby. I even wonder what if it were true for me as well?
That much commitment and enthusiasm might just change the world.
And that’s the one thing that the church has, that my R/C car club doesn’t necessarily share….the desire to change the world. Racing R/C cars is a heap of fun, and I’m glad I go do it. It’s a real community, people that genuinely care for each other both at the race track, and away from it. For many of us, it’s part of who we are, and makes life better. And it’s serious fun.
But the church? We don’t just play with toy R/C cars. We’re on about things that “really” matter. Feeding the poor. Caring for the marginalised. Calling for justice. Standing with the oppressed. Inviting people into true humanity through a relationship with God. Loving our neighbours as ourselves. That’s what we pour all our being into. That’s our sole focus….not buildings, facilities, money, fun, ownership….isn’t it?