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Football O and D and special teams

When the primary leadership team of a church increases beyond 10 or so, the game changes radically. More like a football team, the dynamics can be very uncomfortable for the golfer. And for those who still think they're playing basketball, ministry can become confusing—and painful.

Football is a game of highly specialized roles. Few players are interchangeable. Guards seldom become quarterbacks. Teamwork is more important than one-on-one skill. In fact, a great athlete who freelances can mess up the entire game.

Football players don't know what everyone else is doing. The offensive and defensive teams have different playbooks and different game plans. When not in the game, they may not even watch their teammates; they huddle with their unit and position coach to plan for the next series. Most players have to watch the game films to know what happened.

The sheer number of players and the distinctly different roles make camaraderie a challenge. While the basketball team rides everywhere together, the football team may take two buses.

For the members of a leadership team that once played basketball, this is a difficult adjustment. They may feel out of the loop and insignificant. Some won't be able to make the change. Some won't want to. But there is nothing they can do about it. The game has changed.

The only question: Am I going to put on the pads, retire, or just stand here in my shorts and get run over?

A fuller version of this article, with more applications for church leadership, can be found at

Larry Osborne is pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, California.

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