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A winning team needs a star player or two. Given freedom to go one-on-one, these players can make or break the team. Adding or losing a star player can turn the season around.

While basketball teams do not have the same depth of relationships found on the golf course, the good ones have great esprit de corps. Everyone rides to the game in one van. The locker room is lively. Trash talk is half the fun.

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 http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/winter/13.80.html

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

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

Posted: November 26, 2012

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