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Adapting to Your Church's Environment

We specialized not in prescriptions but in diagnosis.
—Raymond Bakke

John Wooden, the successful basketball coach at UCLA for many years, can teach us something about pastoring.

When Wooden began his "ministry" of coaching, he won a national championship with a team whose tallest member was only six feet five inches. He had a fast-guard offense, a high post, and a lot of backdoor plays and quick screens. Wooden kept his players moving all over the court.

Then he was fortunate enough to recruit a couple of seven-foot centers, so he totally changed his system. He went to a low-post and strong-forward system. And he kept winning championships.

For Wooden, the goal was to win, not to run a particular offense. He changed to incorporate the gifts of his players.

Pastoral ministry demands similar flexibility. If Wooden was a pastor, he wouldn't insist on preaching the same way everywhere. He wouldn't try to run the same church program in every context. Pastors need to understand the environment in ...

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