Who’s your favorite football team? I live in Atlanta now so I love it when the Falcons do well. But being a native San Diegan, The Chargers will always have a place in my heart!

Football games are won by moving the ball down the field a few yards at a time. So many of the most exciting games have been won or lost at the one-yard line! 

It’s true that we all love it on a kick off when the ball is carried back for a touchdown or when a 40 yard Hail Mary pass wins the game! But over the course of any given season, championships are won (or lost) a few yards at a time.

The little wins give you the big win! If you want to wear the ring, you have to dig in for the small gains all season and execute well every game.

NFL coaches know their goal, develop the best team possible and score more points than the other team! You know your mission too. It takes hard work to take new territory, one person for Christ at a time. It’s not just the big plays that win it;   it takes far more well executed little plays every day!

Here are six “quick plays” to help you as a leader create big gains toward your mission.

1.  Get the right people in the room

I invest a good amount of time getting the right people in a room together, at the right time, for the right reason. I never cease to be amazed at the power of a wisely and intentionally convened group in contrast to a “regular” meeting. Or how much time we can waste by meeting with six or seven people one to one, multiple times! Get them all in a room at the same time!! Meet for a purpose and get the job done. It’s so much faster and so much more productive.

2.  Pick up the phone

The difference between getting things done and making things happen is often made by simply picking up the phone! Getting things done is usually the result of someone calling you. Making things happen is usually the result of you calling someone! Heck you can start a war by picking up a phone! That is powerful! Everyone gets things done, but leaders make things happen! So what could you do by thinking strategically, with a redemptive heart, and in alignment with your mission? What needs to happen? It might be just a 5 minute phone call away.

3.  Make a decision

It’s true that some big decisions require significant time to process and percolate. But through years of leadership I’ve learned that many decisions can be made relatively quickly. Most in 24 hours or less! That gives time to pray, think, make a couple calls, check the budget etc. So many things get bogged down in your church because simple decisions get stuck in someone’s inbox. If someone else needs to make the decision, get the issue moved to that person today!

4.  Resist distractions

This is the only item on the play list that is a defensive move. Generally, a list like this needs to be all offense, all the time. But without some defense, you can’t win the game. Distractions are lethal to busy leaders. From email to extraneous demands or from persistent sales people to the next unhappy member, sometimes you need to resist the distraction and stay focused on the priority right in front of you. You’d be amazed at how many problems are solved, in fact, just “go away” from momentum. Fight to cast vision and lead in such a way that produces momentum!

5.  Experiment

In this case I don’t mean to call an audible. Most church leaders don’t need encouragement for more of that! I’m referring to taking a strategic risk, a planned approach to something “new and improved.” Don’t declare it as the new vision for the next five years. Experiment short term, maybe for six months, with something new, a better way of doing something you already do.

Make sure you measure carefully for improved results. At 12Stone® we often say, “don’t just make it different, make it better!”  What needs to be made better at your church? Don’t make a two year study and write a 20 page paper. Take two to three weeks to dig in, dig deep and make a new plan. The new plan should fit on 1-2 pages. Then experiment and make in flight corrections. You’ll likely be very pleased with the results and if not, you’ll be pleased with what you learned.

6.  Care

Don’t underestimate the power in simply caring. At times I think it’s becoming a lost art. Please don’t misunderstand. I believe that church leaders care. They really do, but sometimes the demands of a busy schedule can result in an inability to keep up with everything. This sometimes results in a depletion of the finite amount of energy any one person has. The final result is no energy left to demonstrate that you care. You are so busy making things happen, (and getting things done), that your relational bandwidth runs thin.  The good news is that the remedy is often a “simple play” and as long as it’s from the heart you are good to go!  It might be a hand written note, or a quick phone call, or a cup of coffee with someone. It might be as simple as a thank you card with a Starbucks gift card inside. It might be a smile and a hug. Sometimes it’s just not complicated. We just need to do it!

So which of these simple plays will help you move the ball down the field today?