The 2018 Mid-Season Buffalo Bills as an Object Lesson for the Church

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Halfway through the 2018 season, the Buffalo Bills continued to struggle. Their struggle is an object lesson for the church.

The 2018 NFL season is halfway done and the Buffalo Bills are tanking thanks to their pitiful offense.  The Bills’ defense is playoff – maybe even Super Bowl – caliber.  However, their offense wouldn’t qualify for most other team’s practice squads.

As of right now, the Bills have one of the, if not the worst, offenses in the NFL.  I won’t run through all the stats, but trust me, they are bad.

As a Bills fan, I’m disappointed.  Many fans are upset with the team’s lack of success.  Even worse, we’re not really seeing much growth.

The other day I realized that there’s a lesson for the church in all of this.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen church lessons in the Buffalo Bills.

Success Requires a Good Offense and a Good Defense

The Buffalo Bills’ defense makes stops.  They create turnovers.  They keep the other teams out of the endzone.  Well, that is, they do until about halfway through the third quarter, then things fall apart.

Why, though?

Simple: they are tired.

Because the offense is so horrible, they often spend little time on the field, which means the defense doesn’t get much time to rest.  As a result, they get tired and become less productive as the game progresses.

In order for a good defense to be successful during the entire game, they need the offense to be productive.  When the offense fails (as is the case with the Bills), then the defense will end up struggling and the team as a whole will suffer.

The reverse is true, too: if the offense is good but the defense is horrible, then the team struggles.  When the defense allows the opponent to easily score, then the offense is forced to make up the difference, which means taking unnecessary risks and potentially losing the game.

This same principle applies to churches.

Success Requires All Areas Contribute Effectively

Now, let’s apply the Buffalo Bills’ situation to the church.

If the church brings many people in, even packing the pews, but fails to share the gospel during the service, then there was no evangelism.  The reverse is also true: if the church preaches the gospel every Sunday, but does not bring people in, then there is no evangelism.

Success requires both gospel preaching and gospel reaching.  We need to go out to the people and preach the gospel.

This same principle also applies to the various ministries of the church.

Most churches are broken down into these areas: worship, discipleship, fellowship, and outreach.  Further, they often have adult, youth, and children’s ministries.  If a church falters in any one of these, then the whole church will suffer.

How to Fix Things

In order to fix things, I recommend the following.

  1. Pray for humility, honesty, and help.  Seek God’s guidance, wisdom, and vision to be so overwhelming that there is no room for any other will but God’s.
  2. Do an honest self-evaluation.  Look at what you’re doing, where you’re struggling, and where you’re succeeding.  Evaluate your priorities.  If needed, ask a third party to provide an objective analysis.
  3. Develop an improvement plan.  Come up with a realistic yet challenging plan to revitalize those areas that need improvement while maintaining those areas that are doing well.
  4. Be willing to change.  If a church isn’t willing to make changes, it will not improve, experience growth, or effectively reach the community with the gospel.
  5. Kill any and all sacred cows.  The church has no use for pet projects except God’s.  We are on a mission from God to grow his kingdom, not feed our egos and personal preferences.
  6. Be more effective doing a few things.  A church does not need to offer any and every possible service.  It’s perfectly acceptable — even recommended — that churches focus their attention on a few things and do them very well.

This list is not comprehensive – no article or book truly is.  Nevertheless, I do hope and pray it helps you and your church begin growing God’s kingdom for God’s glory in a mightier way.

About John L. Rothra
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