the shape of leadership

What We’re For

Our fourfold reason for being

George P Wood on August 2, 2021


On Dec. 26, 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFL Championship Game, beating the Green Bay Packers 17-13. The next summer, when the Packers started training for the 1961 season, coach Vince Lombardi took a back-to-basics approach, telling his players, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

For the next two months, Lombardi rebuilt his team from the ground up. On defense, they relearned how to block and tackle. On offense, the Packers relearned how to run plays.

“Uh, Coach, could you slow down a little?” joked Max McGee, the team’s veteran wide receiver. “You’re going too fast for us.”

Lombardi’s approach worked. Under his leadership, the Packers won five championship games in seven years (196162 and 1965–67), including the first two Super Bowls (1967 and ’68). They remain the NFL’s only threepeat championship team (1965–67). When Lombardi died in 1970, the league appropriately named the Super Bowl trophy in his honor.

In ministry, as in football, leaders need to revert to fundamentals on a regular basis. This is especially true in difficult seasons, such as the one we’ve just passed through. COVID played a mean offense the past 18 months. It knocked us back on our heels as we tried to figure out how to respond to government mandates closing our churches.

My prayer is that reverting to fundamentals will prepare you and the ministry you lead for
a winning season.

We learned many valuable lessons, of course, like how to livestream worship, how to facilitate small groups via Zoom, and how to collect offerings online. The list of new skills we acquired is long and varied. But in the midst of learning new things, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals, especially when our learning is on the fly and just in time.

So, 60 years after Vince Lombardi uttered his immortal words, it’s time for post-COVID American churches to have a this-is-a-football moment.

The Assemblies of God names its “football” in this passage of our Constitution:

… the priority reason for being of the Assemblies of God is to be an agency of God for evangelizing the world, to be a corporate body in which many may worship God, to be a channel of God’s purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son, and to be a people who demonstrate God’s love and compassion for all the world.

Our purpose, our reason for being, can be stated in four simple words: evangelism, worship, discipleship, and compassion. That’s what we’re for as a Fellowship.

I asked the executive officers of The General Council of the Assemblies of God to reflect on these four words. What do the terms mean? And how do they reorient our ministries after COVID? Over the next four days, we will share their responses.

My prayer is that reverting to fundamentals will prepare you and the ministry you lead for a winning season beginning this fall. If the Packers rebounded from their 1960 title game loss to become champions the next year, we can rebound, too. After all, in Jesus Christ, we’re more than champions (Romans 8:37).

Adapted from the Summer 2021 edition of Influence magazine.

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