Posted by Pastor Stuart

It’s getting close to the Super Bowl, and I recently read an article by an NC Baptist pastor written after Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, when the Seattle Seahawks huddled up on the 1 yard line right at the end to pick the play that could win them the game. They decided to pass… and didn’t get the touchdown. In his article he pointed out how important it is 1) to huddle up, and 2) to take the field and make the play. The Seahawks huddled, but they didn’t make the play.

If churches were football teams, the congregation would be the players, and the huddle would be regular in-church activities like weekly Sunday worship. That’s when we gather together, hear guidance from our playbook the Bible, and make a plan to support each other when we leave the huddle and start the play. (I guess that makes Jesus the coach, God the general manager, and the Holy Spirit the quarterback? Or something like that.)

I was reminded how important that Sunday huddle is this week since… we couldn’t have worship because of snow and ice. No worship, no huddle. So I’ve been figuring out how to be my best self all week on the fly. Football teams can speed up their play if the clock’s ticking by skipping the huddle, but you only do that if necessary. You play better when you huddle and prepare.

So I missed our Hickory Rock huddle this week. I’m always ready to walk up to life’s line of scrimmage and play/live better after we huddle up. However, for some churches it’s tempting to just stay in the huddle.

Think about it: on the line of scrimmage, there are really big dudes gonna try to knock you down. But in the huddle, it’s just your team nice and close and supportive. Who wouldn’t want to stay in such a comfy huddled place?

But that’s not what good football players or good God followers are called to do. (Just imagine what a coach would think if the players never left the huddle.) We are called to take the field, snap the ball, and play our best.

It can be hard these days for churches to play their best, since it feels like their team doesn’t have as many players or as big a budget as they used to. It’s hard to play if your special teams don’t show up for the games.

So what to do? How can we do better at getting out of our huddle and playing well? Turns out, some music & arts organizations have some ideas, because they’ve had some of the same problems.

“New data from the National Endowment for the Arts shows attendance for operas, plays, dance and art museums continues to fall…. If you run a symphony, the business model used to be: play gorgeous, amazing music and your audience will come. That strategy doesn’t play anymore. So at a subway stop in Chicago, the Chicago Opera Theater holds pop-up performances. In Detroit, weather-proof reproductions of masterworks are placed in neighborhoods that would otherwise never encounter these works. Professional musician Stanford Thompson says artists must redefine their roles. He says what will drive traffic to these institutions is when actors, singers and musicians start stepping off the stage and into struggling schools, to mentor students and teach them to find value in art.”

What great ideas! So just like artists need to step off the stage and into struggling schools/neighborhoods, so should Christians step off their church steps and out into their community. We won’t score any touchdowns if we never leave the huddle. So what kinds of plans can we make to help get us out on the field and the streets to form relationships, mentor kids, and help people find value in strengthening their spiritual lives?


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