Last Sunday the NFL regular season came to an end. For 26 teams it was a disappointing season. For many of these 26 teams is had been a run of disappointing seasons. As a result 6 head coaches have been fired (including those fired midseason). Due to the mass number of firings that tend to take place the Monday following the last game of the season, the day has become known as Black Monday in NFL circles. The owners that fired their head coaches did so because they believe that by hiring the right guy they can turn their franchises around. While this might be true for some teams. For instance, the Vikings and the Redskins are two teams that are trending up that recently hired new head coaches. Both teams clinched their divisions and look to be built for long term success. Other teams, like the Browns seem to be stuck in a pattern. The Browns have now fired three head coaches in four years. No one credible in the NFL believes that that kind of instability breeds success, and yet the Browns continue to turn through head coaches. Now, what does this have to do with spiritual things? The average life span of a preacher at a congregation is very similar to that of a head coach. Most last two to three years. Preachers are often hired to “turn” a congregation around. For many they expect the preacher to come in, baptize half the congregations size in the 1st year and have elders established by the end of the second year. They are expected to preach every sermon, teach every class, visit every person weekly, keep the church looking pristine, and basically doing every job an elder and a deacon would be doing. Then after a year or two the preacher is either burned out or fired. The church is left to pick up the pieces and try again with the next guy. Much like these NFL teams that fail to find success and end up in a never ending carousel of coaches. Why do so many churches seem to fail to find the “right guy?” I think the answer is found in toxic franchises in the NFL. Last year my beloved Chicago Bears found themselves firing yet another head coach and general manager. The team actually quit. Several times during the season you could literally see it. The only excuse to lose back to back games where the opposing team scores 50 points or more is to quit. By the end of the season you could see a half hearted effort on the field. At the end of the season everyone was blaming the head coach. (In fact, the only reason the general manager was let go was because he hired this abysmal head coach.) This got me to thinking, why is it the head coach is blamed when the players aren’t playing with heart? I get it if he was just out coached (and he was). But, the “lack of effort” and comments about the team “quitting on their coach.” Kept coming up. I heard several similar comments made about several teams that fired their coaches this year, especially those that fired them midseason. The head coach cannot run the plays for the players. A head coach isn’t making the tackles. A head coach isn’t passing the ball, or making blocks. That is the players job. If they fail to do their job, or put forth any effort it is on them to be “professionals.” After all, countless Americans go to work every day not caring too much for their boss and still put forth an honest day’s work. Likewise, many churches continue to struggle because they think that the perfect preacher will magically make everything better. As I mentioned they expect elders right away. Elders are not grown on trees. Elders are not magically created out of thin air. Elders happen when individual Christians are growing. Yes, the preacher needs to be providing lessons that encourage the saints to grow. BUT, he cannot make the grow. And if a church is not growing spiritually that does not mean the preacher failed. (I am not saying that all preachers are perfect and don’t make mistakes). If the brethren fail to apply the lessons and sit back and expect the preacher to do everything I can guarantee that church will fail to establish elders. That church will fail to grow in spirit and in number and it won’t be long before the next preacher is brought in to “save the church.” Brethren if we want a sustained success in building this church it is not just the job of the preacher. You need to get involved serving the church. We need bible class teachers, we need men willing to step into the pulpit, we need all of you willing to step outside your comfort box and serve, teach, and grow up in the faith.
Grinnell church of Christ
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