The Similarities Between Churches And Football Teams

Football is back! I don’t know about you, but I am pretty excited and looking forward to a new season. Along with a new football season inevitably comes a barrage of football themed sermon illustrations, but perhaps there is a good reason for it. It recently crossed my mind that when you compare the people who make up a church with the people who make up a football team, there are a lot of similarities. Here is what I came up with:

Owner Of Team: God

Each ultimately has the final say in all things. Nothing happens without them knowing and they are able to step in at anytime and do what they feel is necessary.

Head Coach: Preacher
They are the ones who stand up in front of the team to motivate, encourage, instruct, and cast vision. They are the ones who are typically held responsible for the overall health and effectiveness of their team.

Coaching Staff: Elders
They are the ones who guide and instruct the team, with each serving and using their strengths in a particular area. They also encourage and support the head coach/pastor, keep him accountable if they see areas where he is going off-track, and help the team stick to the vision being cast by the head coach/preacher


These are the people in visible leadership roles. They are the ones who are willing to step up, take charge of projects/ministries, don’t mind being the center of attention, and are okay with having other people look to them for guidance. They tend to be extroverts, have big personalities, and are seen as natural leaders by people who know them.

Halfback (Running Back)
These are the people who are able and willing to lead when called upon. They may not always be the first to step up and lead, but when asked, they are willing to step up, take over, and run with a project. The people in church leadership positions know that if there is something that needs to be done, they can hand it off to this person and know that it is in good hands. They may not be the ones who come up with a lot of ideas, but you can present an idea to them and they catch the vision, see what needs to be done, take over, and run with it through completion.

Wide Receiver
These are the people who just start serving somewhere, keep serving consistently in that area, and may eventually be put in a leadership role or put in charge of the area in which they have been serving. They are willing to keep serving, working, and doing the same thing for as long as they are needed. If the time comes when they are asked to step up and lead the area they have been serving in, they are willing to do so and carry it on to completion.

Tight End
These are the people who are willing to serve in either and public, visible role or behind the scenes. They are willing to do the grunt work behind the scenes for as long as needed, but will also step up and take on a more visible role if that is where they can best be used. They may be more naturally gifted in one role or the other, but are willing to serve in either way, depending on where they can best help the team.

These are the people who make it their goal to make the jobs and lives of those in leadership go as smoothly as possible. They take care of the “small” stuff so that the people in leadership roles can better focus their time and energy on the main aspects of their jobs. People tend to not even realize they are there or know exactly what it is they do. They rarely get any kind of recognition for what they do until they “retire,” move away, or die – but once they are gone people realize the impact that their service had.

Offensive Line
These are the people in the trenches, doing the dirty work, who tend to get taken for granted. They do the things that must be in order for everything else to go smoothly, so that the more visible members of the team are able to perform their duties. If these people were not there doing what they do, nothing else would work properly and the opposition would cause chaos among the team.

Defensive Line
These are the people who are called upon as the first line of defense when something starts to go wrong or needs to be addressed quickly. The leadership of the team know that they can count on these people to effectively address and control the situation. They are willing to step in and do whatever it takes to get the situation under control.

Linebackers (Pass Rushers)
These are the people who referred to as “Prayer Warriors.” They are always chasing down and putting pressure on the enemy. Rather than sit back and wait for something to go wrong, they attack the opponent with all they’ve got. These are the people who are constantly in prayer for the leadership, church members, and anyone else who may need prayer. They are the first to sign up for prayer meetings, are willing to stop and pray with anyone right on the spot, and have lists of leaders, missionaries, and other Christians around the world that they are praying for.

These are the people who step up and come through when things seem like they are falling apart. When there is a crisis, people are going through difficult times, or things are extremely busy, these people step up and do whatever it takes to make sure things are handled and the situation doesn’t get too out of control. Some of these people are very involved, serving in many different areas and helping out wherever needed. Others hang back, blend in, and wait until it is obvious that they are needed, but when times get tough and the situation looks desperate is when they do their best work.

Special Teams/Punter
These are the people who step up when things seem to be stalling. They may not have the most glamorous roles, but are always prepared and do what is expected of them. Instead of seeing their being called upon as an admission of failure, they see it as a strategic opportunity to reassess the situation, push back against the opponent, and regain some of the ground that was lost.

These are the people who consistently execute, successfully do what is asked of them, are rarely given credit and have their successes minimized, but are quick to be blamed when they do mess up. They will step up in critical situations and do what needs to be done to help the team achieve success, but when things don’t work out as hoped, they are the ones that people focus on to assess blame – even though no one else was willing to step up and do what they were willing to do. A lot of the things they do may seem simple, but are more difficult than people realize, especially considering the pressure-filled circumstances in which they take place.

Waterboy/Equipment Manager
These are the people who make sure everything is working properly, are quick to recognize the needs of others, and are constantly looking for ways to serve and meet the needs of others in ways that most people may not see. They do the things that most people never think of or realize need to be done; the things that always get done, but no one really knows who does it or how/when it gets done. They rarely, if ever, get recognized for the work they do, but they are okay with that. They do what they do, not for recognition, but simply because it needs to be done.

What do you think? Am I crazy? What did I leave out? Feel free to make comment, suggestions, or call me names in the comments.

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