The Most Powerful Word in the NFL (And the church!)

By: Joshua Symonette


It is not often that you get an opportunity to talk about multisite church and the role of a campus pastor with an NFL head coach. But that was the conversation I had with John Harbaugh, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, on the first day of training camp back in late August 2018. He was curious and wanted to know how it worked. The concept was not that familiar to him. But he loved the idea. So I explained it to him in terms he could understand. As a former NFL player for a few years, I could speak John’s language. So I translated the nuances of what it means to be a campus pastor.


While sitting in the team dining room, I explained to John that leading an NFL team was no different than running a multisite church. His role was equivalent to a lead pastor role. And his coaches were the equivalent to campus pastors. Essentially, each position group on his team (i.e. quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, etc.) would be like a campus in multisite church world. His coaches would lead those groups in the specific way they needed to be led based on the overall team vision.


Immediately he got it. But there was one essential ingredient that I wanted to emphasize.


As we began to tour the facility, I explained that the success of the campus pastor role was built on trust. It is my belief that campus pastors are really trust brokers. Their role is to accurately represent the vision given to them by the lead pastor, while also building relational equity with departments, teams, and the campus community they lead. This provides both unique opportunities and challenges.


Just like there are several NFL teams, with different systems and nomenclature within those teams, no two multisite churches are alike and the nuances of the campus pastor role vary. But one thing is the same in both worlds, TRUST.


No matter the organization, there must be trust, so that both position coaches and campus pastors can lead well. Only through a culture of trust can each leader buy-in, translate, develop strategy, and execute the vision given by the head coach/lead pastor, in concert with the other entities of the team, to move the team forward.

Talent is important. But trust is everything!


Josh Symonette Leadership Coaching Campus Pastors

Joshua is a former professional athlete in the National Football League who is passionate about developing people. As a campus and teaching pastor at National Community Church, Joshua leverages that passion for developing others to inspire, coach, and implement staff development. Identifying and activating potential is what he enjoys most.

As part of the 4Sight Team, Joshua leads our Coaching Group for Campus Pastors.