Don’t ever – ever – Punt

Thom RainerThom Rainer is a church guru and a self-proclaimed football nut.  He is also a University of Alabama fan — but grace covers a multitude of sins.  (Having had over 20 years connection to East TN and Knoxville it is hard to give up the UT Vol mentality!)

He posted a video about Coach Kelley and his team that never punts.  He also included some insights from Coach Kelley’s approach that impact ministry.  Both the video and posting are worth a look.

  1. Just because everyone else is doing it a certain way, doesn’t mean you should too. Coach Kelley challenged his assistants to ask “why” about every aspect of their program. When is the last time you asked “why” about the way things are done at your church? Times change, and sometimes methods should too.
  2. Stats and trends are important. Coach Kelley knows the percentages and the risks involved in his strategy. He didn’t just wake up one morning and make changes. He calculated the risk and the reward. And he can clearly communicate those to the naysayers. Identify the historical patterns, future risks, and potential rewards that change may bring before implementation.
  3. Creativity often comes from necessity. Hard times in Coach Kelley’s personal life forced him to become more creative. If your church is struggling in certain areas, be creative with your solutions.
  4. Read books that make you think a little bit differently. If all you read are the same kinds of books from the same kind of authors, you won’t expand your thinking or stretch your imagination. Yes, pastors should read theological books and commentaries, but they should also indulge in general leadership books
  5. All the little things add up. Coach Kelley didn’t have one silver bullet to winning games; he had multiple small tactics that added up to an advantage for his team. Likewise, there is no one silver bullet to turning around a dying church or continuing the growth of a healthy one. It takes several little improvements in different areas to add up to growth.
  6. There will be complainers. The strategy employed by Coach Kelley doesn’t work every time. There will inevitably be games lost, but Coach Kelley sticks to the strategy. And it’s hard to argue with a .836 winning percentage. However in those losses, I guarantee there were complainers saying that Pulaski should have punted on fourth downs. Or kicked off like every other team. Unorthodox tactics make people uncomfortable, but as a leader it’s important to encourage others to see the big picture.

Coach Kevin KElly


Coach Kevin Kelley of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, instructs his players to never punt, never field punts, and only do onside kicks, and he claims that math backs up his innovative philosophy. Grantland spent some time with Kelley and his players to learn more about the coach behind the team that once scored 29 points before its opponent touched the ball. Coach Kevin Kelly2

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