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Rethinking "Team" Terminology

More artistic leaders are looking for an alternative to sports metaphors in ministry.

I am not an athlete. The closest thing to sports I participate in is shooting pool and bowling. I do appreciate the incredible skills and abilities that athletes have. But I nevertheless find it difficult to relate to the athletic terminology we use to describe leadership in the church.

For example, we talk about "leadership teams" or "ministry teams;" we gather leaders for "huddles." Our small group ministries often have "coaches." Mountain climbing and running track are our most popular images for describing church leadership.

There's good biblical reason for all this. In 1 Corinthians 9, after all, Paul uses the metaphor of running a race and winning a prize. But some people—like me—find it difficult to identify with athletic metaphors.

Team terminology isn't bad, and most people understand it. But it's interesting how using a sports metaphor brings a certain feel to what we do. Most sports teams have a manager. So in a church context, is the manager the senior pastor? But ...

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