PASTOR'S PEN: The similarities between basketball and the church

By Pastor Duane Costello

Faith Fellowship Church

Did you know that the game of basketball is very similar to that of a local church?

It is true.

Of course, they don’t “pop-out” at you right away; you have to kind of study the game of basketball and the life of the local church to see the similarities. Since I like sports and I am a pastor of a church let me show you some of the similarities.

A basketball team consists of five players, right? Well, not really. You only see five players at a time on the basketball court, but there are more players that make up the team. You don’t see the other five or ten players that are on the team because they are sitting on the bench just waiting for a chance to get into the game and play. They practice just as hard as the starters throughout the week even though they know they may not play much, but they do it anyway so they are prepared when they get the chance to get into the game.

Most of these that sit the bench will come into the game to relieve one of the main players of the game. We also see the head coach of the basketball team on the sidelines directing the team; yelling, encouraging, drawing up plays on the drawing board; doing his best to lead the team to victory. He’s the one who worries the most and thinks the most and looks for the best people to do the job who have the same goal in mind as he does and that’s to gain victory.

The coach gets to know his players inside and out to find out who has the best ability to dribble the ball, block shots, shoot three pointers, who plays the best defense. The coach looks for his quality, dependable substitutes who will willingly come off the bench to relieve the starter until he can catch his breath and rest a little. The coach also looks for his team leader to help direct the team during the game. There is a lot that goes on in order to have a basketball team isn’t there?

Now, in the church we have a coach, the pastor, who worries about his flock, the church people. The pastor loves his people even though sometimes he makes them run a few extra wind sprints at times. The pastor prays for guidance and he studies his play book, the Bible, to know the best strategy for his team, the local body of believers who make up the church. This is done so that together they can gain victory over the ways of Satan and follow the ways of Jesus Christ.

The goal in the local church is to see people come to know Jesus as their Savior and to learn how to encourage each other to live for Jesus Christ while we are alive, or should I say, as we are in the game of life. In order for this to happen it takes teamwork. All the members are important and needed just like the bench warmers on the basketball team.

The starters on the basketball team are kind of like the board members and the teachers and leaders in the church. The second and third stringers who come into the game from time to time to substitute for the starters are the church workers, the assistant teachers, the workers behind the scenes at church functions; people who are in the shadows of church ministry. All team members are important, because if a team only had five players and one of them got hurt or fouled out of the game, who would be there ready to take their spot in the lime-light? The question is not whether you are a starter or a bench warmer; the question is this: “Are you on the team doing your best at what you do?”

Oh, and by the way, have you ever noticed how a coach is either thought of a “good” coach or a “bad” coach? Most people make their decisions based solely on whether or not the team won or lost the game. Most of these people have never gotten involved with the team and offered their talents to help the team. I wonder, is a pastor thought of this way like a coach?

Are you on the team at all when it comes to church? The church needs you more than you think or believe. Get involved in your church and help contribute your talents and your skills because the church needs you.