If you have followed my writings for any length of time online, you know of my almost rabid enthusiasm for football. College football in particular. And especially the Alabama Crimson Tide.
So when I saw this video online last week, I found Coach Kevin Kelley’s strategy fascinating. I can’t begin to imagine the reaction at Bryant-Denny Stadium if Nick Saban were to go for it on fourth down every time and attempt an onside kick on nearly every kickoff. It likely wouldn’t be pretty.
I realize they are talking about high school football here, but I identified six lessons pastors can learn from Coach Kelley and his unorthodox strategy.
- Just because everyone else is doing it a certain way, doesn’t mean you should too. Coach Kelley challenged his assistants to ask “why” about every aspect of their program. When is the last time you asked “why” about the way things are done at your church? Times change, and sometimes methods should too.
- Stats and trends are important. Coach Kelley knows the percentages and the risks involved in his strategy. He didn’t just wake up one morning and make changes. He calculated the risk and the reward. And he can clearly communicate those to the naysayers. Identify the historical patterns, future risks, and potential rewards that change may bring before implementation.
- Creativity often comes from necessity. Hard times in Coach Kelley’s personal life forced him to become more creative. If your church is struggling in certain areas, be creative with your solutions. As I’ve written before, our culture is now a 24/7 population. Some members have to work during the times of worship services. If possible, give them options.
- Read books that make you think a little bit differently. If all you read are the same kinds of books from the same kind of authors, you won’t expand your thinking or stretch your imagination. Yes, pastors should read theological books and commentaries, but they should also indulge in general leadership books.
- All the little things add up. Coach Kelley didn’t have one silver bullet to winning games; he had multiple small tactics that added up to an advantage for his team. Likewise, there is no one silver bullet to turning around a dying church or continuing the growth of a healthy one. It takes several little improvements in different areas to add up to growth.
- There will be complainers. The strategy employed by Coach Kelley doesn’t work every time. There will inevitably be games lost, but Coach Kelley sticks to the strategy. And it’s hard to argue with a .836 winning percentage. However in those losses, I guarantee there were complainers saying that Pulaski should have punted on fourth downs. Or kicked off like every other team. Unorthodox tactics make people uncomfortable, but as a leader it’s important to encourage others to see the big picture. For every loss, there are six wins. And if your church is reaching six new people for Christ for every one complainer that leaves your church because they don’t buy into the strategy, your church is still going to be a Kingdom presence in your community.
What other lessons can be learned from Coach Kelley? How can these lessons be applied in your church?