Imagine that we are TV sportscasters standing on the sidelines of a football game to give the play-by-play.
Scene #1: The team nearest us is standing together, heads bowed in prayer, with the coach in the center. Suddenly they give a great cheer, and the coach trots out onto the field by himself. The players go sit on the bench.
‘What’s going on?” we ask as we stick a microphone in front of a 250 pound guard. ‘What’s the coach doing out there?”
‘Oh, he’s going to play today.”
‘All by himself?”
‘Sure, why not? He’s had a lot more experience and training than the rest of us. We’ve got a lot of rookies on this team, and we might make mistakes. Anyway, they pay the coach well. We’re all here to cheer and support him,and look at the huge crowd that’s come to watch him play!”
Bewildered, we watch as the opposing team kicks off. The coach catches the ball. He valiantly charges upfield, but is buried under eleven opposing tacklers. He’s carried off half-conscious…
You think that’s ridiculous? But isn’t it the picture many of us have of the church? The members expect the minister to do the preaching, praying, witnessing, and visiting because he’s paid to do the Lord’s work and he’s better trained. But listen to God’s Game Plan. According to Ephesians 4:11, 12, Christ has given the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service.” God gives leaders to the church, not to do all the work, but to help all of God’s people to do it! Lay people are not there simply to pay pastors and evangelists to do the Lord’s work. Rather, pastors, evangelists, and teachers are to equip the so-called lay people to be ministers!
Your pastor is meant to be a kind of playing coach. His main function is to help you as a Christian discover your spiritual gifts, develop them, and use them to build up the Body of Christ.
Now look at Scene #2: The team realizes they’ve all got to play, so they’re on the field in a huddle. They huddle…and huddle…and huddle. The referee calls a penalty for delaying the game and moves the ball back five yards. Still the team huddles, huddles, and huddles. The referee calls penalty after penalty, until finally the ball is moved all the way back to their own goal line.
‘Hey coach!” shouts the quarterback to the sidelines. ‘This is the greatest huddle I’ve ever been in. What a group of guys! We have the best fellowship…and some of these guys are amazing students of the play book. Some have memorized over a hundred plays and can analyze them precisely. We learn so much in this huddle!”
‘But why don’t you get up on the line and play?”
‘Why should we? What we want are bigger and better huddles! Besides, we might get hurt. No one ever got hurt in a huddle!”
Your church and mine are in big trouble if they become a ‘holy huddle” a band of saints gathered Sunday after Sunday, singing, praising, enjoying each other,but never setting out on the line to apply what they learn. The church is supposed to be Christ’s body,his hands, his feet, his voice,by which he carries out his plans in the world. God intends that ‘through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known” (Eph 3:10).
The church is to be God’s light in a dark, corrupt society. The Christian life was never meant to be lived only in church for a couple of hours on Sunday. It’s meant to be lived in the public arena,on the firing line at school, the office, and in the neighborhood, seven days a week. Of course, we need worship and training and fellowship with other Christians,a football team needs the huddle. But it’s what happens after the huddle that the game is all about.
Here’s scene #3: the team breaks out of the huddle. But instead of lining up against the opposing squad, they break into groups of two or three, arguing with each other. Soon they start shoving, and two of them actually get into a fight.
‘What’s wrong now?” we ask as one of them walks off the field in disgust.
‘That bunch of malcontents can’t agree on anything,” he says. ‘Those two over there are arguing over the color of the uniforms. A couple of others are quarreling over the right way to kneel in the huddle. Those two guys are arguing because one believes in what he calls ‘personal’ football, and the other believes in ‘social’ football. They can’t agree whether the individual or the team is more important. Some of the white players say the blacks should go play on their own field, and some of the black guys don’t like the band music. A couple are fighting over whether women should be allowed to play. And I’m quitting because I can pass a lot better than that other guy, and they won’t let me be the quarterback.” —THINK ABOUT IT!