Options and Audibles

Two things I learned (again) this week.

Forgive the football metaphor, but it’s my best current means of talking through this.

American Football’s offensive scheming is based in set plays, often quite complex. The many moving parts are called to serve the goal of forward progress, down the field and toward the goal line. But within a set play there are often options – a choice or variable enacted after the play has started and based on unfolding conditions. The quarterback receives the ball from center and pursues one of those options – usually a choice of running back or if a passing play, downfield receivers. Sometimes the option is running the ball himself.

All good.

Because everyone knows there are options. Even the most particular aspects of their own role and training lead them to this state of readiness. The outcome is a wonderful dynamic, allowing for reaction and spontaneity.

Audibles, on the other hand, are a literal reset of the play that has previously been called. Based as well in unfolding circumstances, these are also known and practiced.

Both can work well in ministry.

Both fail miserably when sufficient preparation and training is missing.

Preparation can be a rhythm. A known cycle in which options or audibles are expected.

Training can be a mindset. Or a practiced and clarified set of values.

So, here’s my takeaways:

  1. Audibles and options are not the problem. One might argue they are a natural and desired aspect of Spirit-directed ministry life. You can send the running back onto the field with the understanding he is going to get the ball and then shift to a passing play at the last minute. He is now a blocker and will be required to take on the defensive end twice his size. But you can only do that so many times. And you certainly can’t do it all the time.
  2. The very best way to implement options and audibles is through a game plan. A ministry game plan looks alot more like a rhythm of planning and resourcing than it does ad hoc initiatives. And that approach can certainly allow for a combination of preset plays and those awaiting their particular circumstances.

What steps can you make in the near future to prepare your staff and key leaders better for the possibility of options and audibles?

I think you’ll see far less injuries and enjoy more downfield momentum.

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