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The Super Bowl will be played on February 3. One of the key components of the game is the huddle which dates back to the 1890’s. It was first used by players at a school for the deaf, Gallaudet University, where quarterbacks had been communicating to teammates using sign language. Since both teams in the games were often from schools for the hearing-impaired, the opposition could discern the play by watching the quarterback’s hands. The huddle provided a way for the team to conceal the play call of the quarterback. The practice was seen by other teams and spread throughout football, especially as teams left the run-only schemes for more sophisticated formations which included forward passes. (New York Times 1/22/19, “Ready, Set, Gone! The N.F.L.’s Disappearing Huddle” by Bill Pennington)
Don Everts, Doug Schaupp, and Val Gordon in their book, Breaking the Huddle: How Your Community Can Grow It’s Witness, liken the huddle to the gathering of the church. For them the huddle is important to the church but it is not the end game. These three gentlemen offer a description of what they call Huddled Communities and Witnessing Communities. Below are some characteristics of each:
What happens in a football game if the team remains in the huddle too long? They will have a delay of game penalty called on them. God never meant for us to remain in the huddle. God never meant for us to spend so much of our time in the church that we have no energy to reach outside the church.
Looking back as an arm chair quarterback pastor, I realize that there were times when we spent all of our time strategizing about how to reach people who were far from God, but had little or no time to invest in those people. The truth is, it is hard to invest in people God loves that have no relationship with him when you are spending all your time with the saved brothers and sisters.
You and I must break the huddle and run the play. Points are scored when the offensive team runs a play and the defense does not stop them. If you and I are to be successful in reaching people we must break from our huddles and run to reach out. We must become witnessing communities.
Huddled communities wilt or draw back inwardly. Witnessing communities lean into the lives of people far from God to see where God is at work. What kind of community will your church pursue?
Remember the huddle is necessary. Roger Staubach described it as the best time to take the pulse of a team. Check the pulse of your church, pray and cast vision. Remember though that the most important aspect of the Christian Life is breaking the huddle and caring for those who are far away from God.
Breaking the Huddle: How Your Community Can Grow It’s Witness
Don Everts, Doug Schaupp, and Val Gordon