What Churches can learn from the Buffalo Bills: Part 2, Talk vs. Action

Talk is cheap, right? Week two of the 2015 NFL season for the Buffalo Bills can teach churches and individuals much about talk versus action.

In my previous article, I wrote that churches can learn a lot from the Buffalo Bills when it comes to new staff members. Today I’ll be discussing another lesson churches can learn from my favorite NFL team (yes, I’m a Bills fan). This time, though, the lesson is about talk versus action.

Big Talk from Buffalo

Trash talk and sports go hand in hand. In the days leading up to the matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, many on the Buffalo Bills did a lot of trash talking about their bitter rival.

For those not familiar with the NFL, the Bills have little love for the Patriots. Well, more like the Bills and their fans can’t stand the Patriots. Rex Ryan, former coach of the New York Jets, disliked the Patriots even before he came to Buffalo.

So, with a top notch defense, Ryan and the Bills were determined to defeat the Patriots in week two of the 2015 regular season. As a Bills fan, I was anticipating watching Tom Brady spend much of the game on the ground.

There was a lot of talk out of Buffalo.

Then the game started.

Small Action from Buffalo

It looked really promising early on. Buffalo scored the first touchdown, and then stopped the Patriots on their first possession.

Then the potential disappeared. At one point the Patriots were leading 37-13. In the end, the Buffalo Bills were manhandled by the Patriots, despite what the final score said.

Despite their trash talk and over-exuberant boasting, the Bills defense was unable to stop the Patriots, and their offense struggled to move the ball until the fourth quarter.

During the post-game press conference, Coach Ryan was his normal blunt and somewhat sarcastic self, but his demeanor was more humble. When asked what happened, Ryan said “we talked too much.”

Buffalo Teaches that Talk without Action is Meaningless

Looking back, Rex Ryan was absolutely right when he said that he and the team “talked too much.” In many ways, the Bills had every reason to win the game. They had motivation, passion, determination, and home field advantage. Nevertheless, the Patriots let their game do all the talking (they didn’t respond to the pre-game trash talk). Buffalo should have done the same.

As a sports fan, I enjoy the friendly trash talk that comes with the game. However, I’d trade all the words for a win. Of course, it’s also nice when the words and actions convey the same message. However, that wasn’t the case for Buffalo. They were all talk, little action.

Many Christians and churches talk about being evangelistic, but are in fact not evangelistic. Thus, they suffer from the evangelism delusion. There’s nothing wrong with talking about evangelism so long as we are doing evangelism.

Now, before you misunderstand, in no way am I encouraging people to begin bragging about their evangelistic exploits. Boasting about how many people we’ve led to Christ, how often we evangelize, or how many people we talk to each day are symptoms of sinful pride. Rather, each of us knows whether or not we are striving to engage in personal evangelism. We know if we’ve shared Jesus with someone in person in the last week, month, or even year. We know when our talk and our walk are out of sync.

As I think about the Buffalo Bills’ week two performance, I believe there is a lesson for individuals and churches. We can and should evaluate ourselves and ensure that we’re as bold about doing evangelism as we are talking about it.

About John L. Rothra
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