At Heartland, we call the people on the leadership team Ministry Coaches, based on Ephesians 4:12, which says that our job as leaders is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not to try to do it all ourselves, or to try to get the "lay people" to give us money so we can "do the ministry." No, we’re more like coaches at a football game – trying to find ways for our "team" to play to its highest potential. Teaching, training, running drills as needed. But when it comes down to it, the players make the plays; the coach is stuck on the sidelines. (That’s where the analogy breaks down, by the way).
Now, one might be tempted to take the analogy a bit further and think that, just like NFL coaches, gameday is Sunday, and we spend the week getting ready for gameday. In fact, in many churches this is the case. All the time and effort go into what happens on Sunday morning, and after the climactic event, everyone goes home to relax, in Elton Trueblood’s words. But in actuality, it’s the other way around: Sunday isn’t gameday. The whole week is gameday, and Sunday is like half-time, or the practices during the week.
"Gameday" is the entire week of ministry in workplaces and schools and homes. That’s where the mission of the Church is advancing, where the real action is. Then we gather on Sunday to be freshly equipped, or encouraged, or healed, renewed, trained, taught, etc. Sunday is preparation for the "real action" of the work-week, not the other way around. It would be ludicrous for an NFL coach to be unavailable during a game because he was working on his locker room speech.
Manning: Coach, it’s 4th down, 1 yard to go. What do we do?
Dungy: Not right now, Peyton, I’m working the end-of-game speech.
Manning: But Coach, we’re down by 5, 1:30 to go. We’ll lose the game unless we get this first down…
Dungy: I don’t have time for this! I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to say to everyone in the locker room after this game, and everyone keeps bugging me about what play to call and if we should go for it on fourth down or if we should challenge the spot of the ball! Don’t you people know I’m busy? Now leave me alone!
Yet this is the kind of thing church leaders do all the time… we don’t have time to really help people in their everyday ministries because we’re working on Sunday’s big event. But ideally our message and practice on Sunday should be organically linked to what is really going on day-to-day in ministry. So in the church, Gameday = the work-week, and Sunday = practice/half-time/mini-camp/rehab.
I would just add, that the coaches have to play the game during the week also, or their coaching abilities become unattached to the real game.
That’s true, grace. It is a struggle, though, for people who make their living “working for the church” to stay connected to the daily life patterns of teachers and plumbers and journalists and business owners. But well worth the effort.
Liara Covert says
One valuable thing about coaching is that we shouldn’t forget that we need to be our own loudest cheering section. We must coach ourselves to build confidence and esteem. Of course, we also think about how our life experience can assist and empower others. Listening to ourselves can be as important as listening to our chosen mentors.
“You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation.”
— Homer Rice