I’ve really been enjoying football lately.
The fact that I’m from Wisconsin probably has something to do with this, but I promise that I won’t say anything more about that.
But Sunday evening, a couple of broadcasters were singing the praises of Matt LaFleur as a “player’s coach.” They went on to describe a player’s coach (my paraphrase here) as one who is tuned-in to each individual player with his unique strengths and weaknesses. A player’s coach doesn’t try to make a power-rushing, smash-mouth, straight-ahead running back dance around the outside like a one hundred, sixty-pound finesse runner.
Switching the figure to basketball for a moment, a player’s coach would never expect a “1” (point guard) to look or play anything like a “4” (power forward) or a “5” (center). The strength of a great starting five is the diversity, not the uniformity, of the five players.
Putting it negatively, the wise pastor – the “player’s coach pastor” – doesn’t do what I did in the early nineties.
I concluded that the Bible teaches that elders are responsible for the teaching that goes on in the church, for the pastoral/shepherding care of the people and for the management of the church’s ministries. So far so good. See Acts 20:28-31, I Timothy 5:17-20, Titus 1:5-16, I Peter 5:1-4.
The next step was the mis-step: With a little encouragement from an elder who agreed with me, we crafted a new elder’s ministry description. We mandated that every elder would be a shepherd over a portion of the congregation, a Bible teacher (in some venue) and the hands-on manager of a ministry.
As you might imagine, this was way too much work for any but the retired and healthy church board member.
The other result was that some church attendees were well cared for while others were ignored, some pretty poor Bible teaching was offered and some ministries were poorly managed.
We also wasted the time and God-given talents of these good men by not letting them concentrate on their areas of strength. We had point guards trying to rebound and wide-receivers doing nothing but blocking.
Give your gifted care-giver lots of people to care for. The shepherd will love it, and so will the “sheep.” Give your gifted teacher many opportunities to teach. Give your gifted managers lots of management responsibility.
This seems so simple, but somehow I missed it.
Pastor: Be a player’s coach.