Is Tony Romo Your Preacher?

If you think this post is all about football, you're in for a surprise. I'm a long-suffering Cowboys fan and Tony Romo apologist. In 2006, I attended the Monday Night Football game against the Giants in Texas Stadium where Romo became the starter. My buddy and I saw him walk into the dressing room before the game, and he waved to us.

As the starting QB of Dallas, Romo has definitely had his many highlights. But over the years, it's become painfully evident that he couldn't successfully carry the team on his own, and many questioned if he was a good QB at all.

This season, the opening game notwithstanding, Romo has been playing a lot better, and there seems to be one main reason, a reason he alluded to in the post-game press conference last night. In Romo's words, this is the most balanced offense he's ever been a part of.

That statement got me thinking about those churches who expect the preacher or minister to do everything for them. He's the congregation's "hired hand," so of course we should make him do the bulk of the work. But I've noticed something about churches with this mindset: they are woefully one-dimensional and never really break out of the rut that comes with this way of thinking. I've read job descriptions from churches looking for a preacher, and they evidently expected him to be superman.

A church that expects the preacher do a lot more than preach is no different than a football team that expects the QB to win the game for them almost single-handedly. Go back and look at past Super Bowl winning QBs. They almost always had a terrific running game and/or strong defense--the lack of which kept great QBs like Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason from ever winning a ring.

So, too, churches, if they expect their preacher to do much more than preach, will never become the church God wants them to be. How do I know that? First, I know that effective preaching takes a lot of time. There are few shortcuts. It requires hours of study, reflection, prayer, etc. A minister must also be active in other areas as a Christian, but when he's expected to do a lot of other things, especially those roles easily filled by other members, the ministry of the pulpit will suffer.

Second, I know this to be true because this was Paul's model. It's striking that Paul never stayed in one place too long (to my knowledge, his three years in Ephesus is the longest on record). I don't think there's a biblical mandate that a preacher stay at one place a minimum or maximum amount of time, but there is a biblical mandate to train the saints for service, to form Christ in them. That can't happen when the saints expect the preacher to do everything for them. Ideally, a preacher should essentially be working himself out of a job as he trains God's people to do God's work for themselves.

I'm glad that, for the first time in his career, Tony Romo has a solid running game and a (better than expected) defense to back him up. Troy Aikman won 3 rings with that same recipe, even though he was a talented QB in his own right. I've seen Romo throw 50 passes in a game because Cowboys fans expected him to win the game for us all on his own, and then we crucified him when he failed. That should have never happened.

Even more tragic is when a church expects their preacher to do all the work, instead of balancing the work load, and then angrily fires the preacher when the congregation doesn't achieve success. But when a church puts every member to work and thereby frees up the preacher to fulfill God's unique calling for him, that's when a church will successfully glorify Christ.

Father, thank you for the awesome privilege of serving your church. I pray that you will lead us in training every saint for service, instead of expecting one person to do it all. Be faithful in helping us fulfill your will for us, both individually, and congregationally. Most of all, help us be a church that glorifies you in all things, especially in our expectations of one another. In Jesus' name.

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