I’m not a huge football fan. I watch maybe three games a year, but when I watch them, I thoroughly enjoy the sport.
But I also enjoy being outside, and naps on Sunday afternoon.
Do you watch football?
During a game, there are frequent times where the team is called to gather into a huddle while the coach (sidelines) or quarterback (field) instructs everyone on what the next play or plays will be in order to get the ball across the goal line.
During these huddle times, if you’re watching on TV, there is usually copious amounts of discussion by the commentators or they cut to a commercial, because no-one is really interested in watching a bunch of men huddled around one another, not moving.
But these huddles are vitally important for the success of the football team. Without them, the players wouldn’t know how to act. They would be running willy-nilly around the field, not being open for the ball and not blocking the right people, and the team would lose.
There is no way a football team can win without some effective huddle time.
But the huddle is not the game. In fact, huddle time is only a small fraction of what happens during the game. It is important, but it is not the focus.
Imagine if the football team made the huddle the focus of the game.
The other team is ready to hike the ball, but the home team holds their hands up to stop them saying, “we aren’t done over here yet”. The men would be adequately hydrated and full of great plans, but the game would never get played.
Sometimes we do this with church.
The church meetings are like huddles. There’s the large meeting on Sunday mornings with all the players. Then there are the smaller Sunday night, Wednesday night, and other various meetings throughout the week. These are each huddles. They’re meant to encourage the players to get back out on the field and make the plays (spread the gospel).
But for many churches, the focus has shifted to the huddles. Churches spend 90% of their energy preparing for and attending huddles and encouraging people to come to the next huddle. How effective will a church be which functions in this way?
It won’t be effective.
Unless the members are actively working for the Lord outside the huddles, the church will decline, and guess what? It is. Overall, the church is shrinking, and one of the main reasons is that it has made the huddle more important than the rest of the game.
Church assemblies should be times of community, but that should not be its only focus. In that community, we should encourage one another and train one another to be more effective during times outside the assembly. The most important times for the church during the week are the times outside the assembly when the church is being the church in the world.
So here’s the question: If you’re in a huddle-focused church, what can you do to change things?
- Change your language. Stop spending all your time talking about church gatherings and start talking about how God is moving and who God is helping you reach throughout the weeks.
- Get moving. Lead by example. Don’t wait for the rest of the church to start making plays. You get outside the assemblies and spread the gospel through the Holy Spirit at work in you.
- Don’t neglect the huddle. This may sound paradoxical given the discussion so far, but if you stop attending the huddles, there is a high probability you will stop making the plays as well. They are connected. AND, how will you encourage others to change their thinking if you separate yourself from them? You won’t, and the church will shrink, and you will have contributed.
So, don’t stop meeting in the huddles, but don’t let them be the goal. The game needs to be played. The Kingdom needs to grow. Love needs to be experienced. And the church, outside the assemblies, is the team that will get it done.