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Baseball is a funny sport. It has no clock, no video review, and no referees. You don’t score by getting the ball into anything. Indeed, when you’re on offense, you don’t even touch the ball. And though no one wears a mouth-guard, everyone’s mouth is full.  But there is one distinguishing thing about baseball that I find interesting. The guy who runs the team is not called a coach; he’s called a manager.

Now you might not see much significance in that, but I think it says a lot about baseball and the difference between a coach and a manager. When baseball was first played the role that we now call “manager” was called the “captain,” and he was one of the players.  (Incidentally, that’s why the manager wears a uniform.) Being one of the players, the captain didn’t coach the rest of the team in their skills, but he did make strategy calls during the game and decide which players to use. Similarly, baseball managers today are in charge of the roster and the strategy, but there are specialty coaches for many of the skills.

Now contrast that to most other sports, in which the head honcho is called a coach. Unlike a manager, a coach needs to make sure every player is developing. Humans are notoriously bad at self-assessment, so a coach needs to see what each player needs and make a plan for improvement. Even players at the highest level of competition benefit from coaching. This is true in baseball, too, but the manager isn’t primarily responsible for it.

When it comes to a worship team, should the leader be more of a manager or a coach? I think most worship leaders would much rather be a manager. After all, the leader is usually part of the team, and it’s not easy to tell one’s peers how they need to improve. But if the leader isn’t coaching the team, who is?  Most teams don’t have dedicated specialty coaches. If the leader is strictly a manager, it’s likely some team members are not developing as musicians, singers, or Christians. Of course, some teams need very little coaching, so a sort of blended approach is probably best. How about you (or your praise team director)? Have you been doing more managing or coaching? Does it vary? What factors influence your approach? I encourage you all to consider what you’ve been doing (or seeing), whether it’s ideal for your team, and share your thoughts and experiences.


I like sports, and I see where you're going with this illustration. I think that both coaching and managing are important, along with leadership, teaching, and mentoring. But maybe the most important skill, or gift that is needed for worship leading is a pastoral heart - both for the worship team members and congregation. Giving of oneself in ministry is demanding and draining, whether playing an instrument, singing, or planning worship. So having a pastoral heart to care for the team is essential in my opinion. And the worship leader also needs to be in tune with the congregation and their needs, since you can't lead if you aren't closely connected.

I agree, the leader needs to have a pastoral heart.  I guess I would associate that more with a coach than a manager, since a coach is concerned with the development, in many areas, of the person being coached.  Coaching seems to have a personal, caring aspect to it that I don't managing doesn't have quite as much.

Hey, I just learned that, in fact, MLB does use video review, in a limited capacity.  I wonder whether they'll keep (and inevitably expand) it, or score it as an error and get rid of review.  We'll see.

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