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The church can’t stay in a huddle

This is the second part of a series of articles I am writing comparing church life to a football game.

In part one, the scenario had the football team all sitting on the bench and let the coach play the game by himself. Obviously, that’s NOT how football is played and that’s why the coach was carried off the field in a stretcher!

But that’s the idea a lot of people have when it comes to church life, “Let the pastor do it all. That’s why he/she is paid and they’re better trained.”

But no football team or church is going to accomplish much if one person does it all.

Scenario #2: The football team realizes they’ve all got to play their position, so they go out on the field and they huddle. They huddle… and huddle… and huddle. The referee blows his whistle, calls a penalty for delaying the game and moves the ball backwards five yards. Still the team huddles, and huddles, and huddles. The referee calls penalty after penalty, until finally the ball is moved all the way back to their own goal line.

The quarterback shouts to the sideline: “Hey coach! This is the greatest huddle I’ve ever been in. What a group of guys! We have the best fellowship… and some of these guys are amazing students of the play book — they’ve memorized over 100 plays and can analyze them precisely.”

The coach yells back: “That’s great but why don’t you line up and play?”

The quarterback responds: “Why should we? What we want are bigger and better huddles! Besides, we might get hurt. No one ever got hurt in a huddle.”

Everyone knows this is silly, no football team ever stays in the huddle.

But many people have that idea when it comes to church ministry. A church will be in big trouble if it becomes a “holy huddle” — a band of saints gathering Sunday after Sunday, singing, praising, enjoying each other’s company; but never applying what they learn.

God wants His people to grow up and mature spiritually.

James, the stepbrother of Jesus, wrote a letter to the Christians of his day because some of them just wanted to have a “holy huddle.”

He warned them in James 1:22, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

In other words, if the only time you study the Bible is in church —you’re not growing… and if you’re not doing what you’re hearing — you’re deceiving yourself! We need to understand the importance of God’s Word to our lives. The Bible is like bread —to be eaten daily… not like cake —to be eaten only on special occasions.

Please don’t misunderstand: the huddle is an important part of the game of football.

The goal of the huddle is to give you time to call a play and get organized, the receivers and quarterback need to know where they are going to go. A huddle is a necessary part of playing the game. But 60,000 people do not pay $20 a ticket to watch their team huddle.

What they want to know is: Does your huddle work? Will the play you called in the huddle actually result in winning against your opponent?

The church is the same way. Christians are called to be Christ’s body: His hands, His feet, His voice carrying out His plans in the world.

The church is to be God’s light in a dark world. The Christian life was never meant to be lived only in church for a “holy huddle.”

It’s meant to be lived in the public arena: at school, the office, in the neighborhood seven days a week. Of course, we need worship and training and fellowship with other Christians; just like a football team needs the huddle. But it’s what happens after the huddle that the game/church is all about!

If you want to grow up and mature spiritually, then do your part: respond to what God is telling you to do and do it.

Don’t just read and memorize the Bible, put it into action. And when you come together remember: the huddle is not the goal but what you do after the meeting is over is what God and everyone else is watching to see!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia