“This is a football” – 3 things Vince Lombardi might say about Sunday School

Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, was famous for telling his players, “This is a football” as he held one in front of them each year at the team’s first practice. He wanted his players to major on the basics. Lombardi would go on to say that football was nothing more than blocking and tackling. He was a big fan of sticking to the basics.

If Lombardi was running your church’s Bible study ministry, what would he tell your people? Based on 2 Timothy 2, he’d tell them to focus on 3 basic things:

1.  Focus on starting new groups and multiplying leaders (2 Timothy 2:1-2). Multiplication is a theme in Scripture (Genesis 1:22, 1:28, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:42, Acts 13:1-3).  Groups stagnate when they don’t replicate. Paul told Timothy to multiply the number of leaders who would teach people Scripture, guiding them to know the same things that Paul had taught Timothy. New leaders would start new groups and reach new people with the gospel message.

2.  Focus on pleasing Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3-7). Paul mentioned 3 kinds of people that had to work hard, stay focused, and exercise great discipline. The soldier, the athlete, and the farmer all had things in common. Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” To update that into Sunday School or small-group language, we might say, “Groups work if you work groups.” Group leaders must be focused on pleasing the Lord, and they can please Him through their careful study and preparation, the degree to which they care for members of their group, their passion for sharing the gospel, and for the way they “provoke others to love and good works.” Group leaders should always remember that they should not strive to please their group members, but should please the One who is the focus of their group.

3.  Focus on evangelism (2 Timothy 2:8-10).  It was reported in the book Transformational Discipleship that a Canadian by the name of Kyle McDonald used Craig’s List to make an incredible exchange. Although he did not have much money, Kyle wanted a house. He placed a red paperclip on Craig’s List and asked, “What would you trade me for this?” You might be thinking that you wouldn’t have given him anything, but a lady offered to trade him a fish pen for it. He then posted the fish pen and asked the same question, “What would you give me for this pen?”  Someone gave him a doorknob! He posted the doorknob and someone exchanged a camping stove. Kyle posted the camping stove and someone else exchanged a generator for it. The generator was exchanged for a neon sign. Exchanges kept taking place, all the way up to an acting job. Kyle posted the acting job on Craig’s List and yes, you guessed it, someone who wanted to be famous exchanged a house for that acting job! As group leaders, we must constantly remember that we have a better story to tell about “a great exchange.” It’s even bigger and better than Kyle McDonald’s exchange. We have the privilege of telling the story of a man who left everything behind in order to live among us, live perfectly, and die for us.  Jesus now offers to exchange our sin for His righteousness. Now that’s a great exchange.

What would Lombardi say to us today if he were here? He’d say “This is a Bible study group” and he’d make sure we stayed focused on 3 things:

1.  Multiplying leaders and starting groups

2. Pleasing Jesus

3. Evangelism

Lombardi knew that success would come when people focused on the basics. Remember his words about staying focused:  “Some people try to find things in the game that don’t exist, but football is only two things – blocking and tackling.”


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