MAY 2005 – Once upon a time there was a small group of people who became interested in football. They loved the excitement and thrill of football. So they gathered one day and made a decision to build a football team.
Now they knew that in order to build a football team they first had to know the rules. So they went out and bought a Rule Book for every member. Then they began to study the Rule Book, making sure that they fully understood the rules so they could be successful on the field.
They began to meet regularly to study the Rule Book. For one hour each week, they would meet, take out their Rule Books, and proceed to go over every section and subsection. Soon they decided that one hour a week was not enough time to learn the Rule Book, so they added a second hour each week. In fact, they wanted so much to have a good football team that they even began studying the Rule Book another hour each week. So for three hours each week, they would meet and study the Rule Book.
Knowing that others were also interested in football, they invited them to become part of the team and attend the Rule Book meeting. Soon the little group began to grow. Because of the growth, they had more funds to apply to studying the Rule Book. They invited outside experts to come to their meetings and explain the intricate parts of the Rule Book.
They studied the rules concerning defense, offense, passing defense, passing offense, how the linemen should posture themselves on both offense and defense, how the members of the backfield should line up, how long they had to snap the ball, how many officials were required to officiate the game, how they should block on offense and defense, how to tackle, how much movement there could be on the line of scrimmage, and all the other various and sundry rules of football in the Rule Book.
They even started printing the Rule Book with leather covers in different colors (red, blue, black, etc.) for different groups (Rule Book for Hunters, Rule Book for Teens, Rule Book for Moms, etc.). They added a concordance, defensive and offensive patterns, and even a cross-reference.
Day after day, week after week, month after month, they continued to study the Rule Book. In fact, many of the members could quote nearly the entire Rule Book from memory.
They eventually decided it was time to hire a coach. When the coach attended his first meeting with the potential football players, he was utterly amazed at the vast store of knowledge they all had of the Rule Book.
One day, after they had met to discuss the Rule Book, the coach asked them when they wanted to start practicing and playing.
“Practicing? Playing? What’s that?” the group asked.
The coach was stunned. “You know. Practicing so we can get prepared. And playing. You know. When do we have a game?”
“Oh no, coach,” one of the team members said. “You misunderstood. We are here to study the Rule Book. That’s our top priority. We just want to make sure that we know the Rule Book.”
And with those words, the coach walked out the door. After all, he was looking for a team that wanted to play, not one that only wanted to study the Rule Book.
And that is the story of a group who wanted to build a football team.
That reminds me of another story. This one is about a group of people who wanted to build a church.
Once upon a time …
(Editor’s Note: From the late 1970s through 2010, Don Wildmon, founder and president emeritus of American Family Association, wrote hundreds of monthly columns for AFA Journal. This one is posted in the hope that churches in America would encounter and engage a culture that is leading America into great darkness.)