Should We Look at Sporting Teams?

This is the second post looking at some other places where we could be looking at borrowing metaphors of church.  If this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, I highly recommend that you head back to the first of these posts and read that first.

Church as Sporting Team

What if we thought of church as a sporting team?  How might this work?  The church is a team that is seeking to ‘win’ and the minister not as the coach who stands off to the side who does not play, but the captain who leads the team.

There are a number of good reasons for looking at sporting teams as a metaphor for church.

  1. Church is not a spectator sport.  Which is funny because most churches I have seen set up like it is a spectator sport.  The action happens up the front and everyone more or less watches on as someone leads in prayer or Bible reading or….But the expectation of church is that everyone should be ready to serve (1 Cor 14:26, Eph 4:16).  Everyone plays on the team.
  2. One place authority is respected is on a sporting field.  Australia is a place where we are not known for respecting authority.  We call our leaders by their first names.  But there is one place that authority is shown in leadership and that is on the sporting field.  If a cricket captain tells you to field in a particular place  there is no vote or appeal, you do it.
  3. Different people have different roles on a team.  One of the great things about a team is that it requires different people to play different roles.  Rarely will there be a player that is excellent at every role on his team, depending on the sport.  Short people, sprinters, big muscular people, pedants can all have an important role on a team, provided they are in the right position.   Sometime we assume people have to have the right personality type to serve in a church, it’s not how God has gifted the church.
  4. Best teams have people coaching each other. Coaching is an important part of sport and what is interesting is that the better the player, or team the more coaches they seem to have rather than the fewer.  The best teams often have players coaching each other in their strengths or from experience.  If we change the word ‘coach’ to ‘disciple’ I think we have a great model to work from.
  5. The team knows what needs to happen.  I was talking with an older minister about how he thought it was odd that churches needed a vision statement.  They didn’t used to.  And when you think about, sporting teams don’t have a vision statement either.  Everyone knows the idea is to score more points than the other team, and you don’t need a poster to tell you that.  Churches are about getting sheep to the end of the journey, even sheep that aren’t in the fold yet.  You don’t need a vision statement to know that.  Sometimes a team will do other things like have a BBQ, but no one is in doubt as to why they are there.

There is also some reasons that we shouldn’t look to sporting teams.

  1. Firstly, not everyone is into sport. So this doesn’t really work as a metaphor.
  2. The team is about ‘winning’ and church is a not just about winning.
  3. Team players who perform well are rewarded, but the gospel is clearly about grace and not about good performing.

If your church was more of an active sports team rather than a crowd watching the action, what would it look like?

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