Darrow Miller and Friends

Halftime & No-huddle Offense: Two Football Metaphors for Today’s Church

A few years ago, I was privileged to worship with Dee and Allen Robbins at their church, Solid Rock Ministries, in Kona, Hawaii. I will never forget their Harley-riding pastor, James “Tex” Texeira. During his sermon, Tex asked the congregation “What are we doing here this morning?” He went on to say that Sunday morning is “halftime” in the football game.

This simple statement echoes many of our thoughts at Monday Church (a Disciple Nations Alliance website devoted to helping Christians function from a biblical worldview in their work).

Sunday morning is not the game. The game is played on the field during the week. On Sunday the church gathers to give the pastor (the coach) the opportunity to equip his team, to make adjustments to the game plan, to prepare and motivate the team to go back out on the field. The church that gathers on Sunday is scattered all over the community Monday – Saturday playing the game. The game takes place in the marketplace and the public square, in the home and in the neighborhood. The “game” is our life following Christ into the dark and tough places, ministering where people are bleeding, advancing his Kingdom into every aspect of our community and nation. The church has more work to do Monday – Saturday than on Sunday. Sunday is the time for the pastor to prepare the church for the week ahead, like a coach prepping his team at half time (Ephesians 4:11-15).

The church is not a social club that exists for itself, it is the body of Christ to incarnate the Word of God in the world. As William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury during WW II, famously said, “The church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”

Mike Metzger has used another football analogy for the church. In his blog “No Huddle Offense” he writes:

No huddles and precise practices are reminiscent of the ancient church. It knew the name of the game—loving God and neighbor. Love requires learning to die to self and seek the flourishing of others, or shalom. This required precise liturgical practices in the assembly, the ekklesia. Liturgy is training “the body and soul in suitable posture and movement,” Peter Leithart writes. Corporate standing, kneeling, singing, confessing, and reading counter our individualistic leanings. Liturgy “depicts the world as it ought to be, the real world as it is believed to be… and what we believe and hope it will one day be.1 The corporate service cultivated selfless habits so that believers sought the flourishing of others. It worked. The church began to win. It grew. Some assemblies outgrew their space, so they continued holding practice sessions in homes. Home groups were practice sessions, not huddles. They practiced confession and communion and built healthy habits. It’s fair to say the Early Church ran a no-huddle offense.

Read Mike’s full piece here. In a day when the individualism of modern society has replaced the unity and diversity of community, at a time when individual Christians are fleeing the church because it no longer seems relevant, it’s time to learn something from a football analogy.

– Darrow Miller

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