I learn a lot from listening to sports talk radio. I know, I know, I should be listening to Christian music on my morning commute, but I gladly admit I’m a heathen. I guess as a pastor I have thought of myself as a coach connected to a team. We do share a lot in common.
1. Preachers and coaches move every three years, sometimes on their own volition, sometime at the team’s.
2. Preachers and coaches often ignore their family because their job takes up so much time.
3. Preachers and coaches both lead worship on Sunday mornings.
4. Preachers and coaches have to learn how to deal with the divas on their teams.
Joking (some what) aside, the parallel I find most interesting is that both are given set of talent and expected to maximize it. Coaches are given players with strengths and weaknesses and expected to use them to produce wins. Preachers, likewise, are given a congregation and expected to use them reach the world and grow the church.
In all my hours of listening to ESPN radio (da-da-dum, da-da-dum), I have realized there are two kinds of coaches. The first is the coach who runs a particular offense, gets pieces to fit his system and doesn’t waver from the recipe that he has built. The other is a coach that looks at the talent on His roster, evaluates their strengths and weaknesses and then builds then builds his system around his players. The truth is, both have worked, both have failed, in the end it’s up to the owner’s preference.
These two systems couldn’t be more different. On the set system side it makes the coach great and the players pieces. When a player doesn’t fit the system, the player is removed so that it can be replaced by one who does. The reward for this coach is a team built around the coach’s strengths and failure is a team that refuses to play because they don’t match the system. On the custom system side, the coach has to be more creative, skillful in his work and take a back seat to the talent on the roster. In this system when a player does not fit the game plan, the game plan is adjusted to fit the player. The reward for the custom coach is a team where every player is maximized and plays to his fullest potential. The failure of the custom coach is a team where every player plays for himself.
God’s call for the pastor is to equip the saints for the saints for the work of ministry. Pastor often follow the same model that coaches follow. There are set system pastors and custom system pastors.
The set system pastor comes in with his way to do church and then through time changes the church to match his model. This model pastor sees great turnover and will either succeed wildly or fail miserably. These are often you biggest named pastors since they have built churches with them at the center. The reward for this pastor is to see his own vision come true in a church. The failure of this pastor is that he splits a church with some who love him and others who hate him.
On the opposite side there is the custom pastor. The custom pastor sees his job as finding the passions and strengths of his church and maximizing them around its membership. The custom pastor sees slow progress with a stable membership. He will see slow growth or slow decline. This style pastor hardly ever has a big name because his results are not as shocking as the set system pastor. The reward for this pastor is a healthy unified church. The failure of this pastor is a stagnant church that doesn’t change.
What style is better? Which style do you prefer?