The “End Run” and Why It’s Bad for Ministry

end run
1. Football. Also called end sweep, sweep. a running play in which the ball-carrier attempts to outflank the defensive end.
2. Informal.
a. an evasive or diversionary maneuver.
b. an attempt to surmount a difficulty without confronting it directly.

I love football season. I always play two fantasy football teams, one with friends and one public. I rarely win, but I like to play.

In football you sometimes see the end run, where an offensive team member tries to run around the defensive line, and bypass the defenders waiting to bring him down. The path of least resistance is not ahead, but around the obstacles. While the offensive and defensive lines are tied up at the line of scrimmage, the running back skirts around the line and tries to break out into the open for a big gain.

There are times in ministry when you see this play out. Someone has the ball, something they want to move forward, something they want to do. They see that there is blockage ahead, and rather than try to go through that, they attempt to go around the line. Sometimes this is literally done by going to another person who has authority, or just going ahead and doing it without asking permission. You see the normal path to get it done, but rather than deal with any opposition, you find an alternate route.

Depending on the organization, this can be very successful. You can accomplish your immediate goal.

But even if it works, in the long run it is harmful to ministry organizations.

The problem is that the “end run” by definition assumes that you are pitted against the “opposition”. In fact, in ministry, we are on the same team. If there is opposition to an idea or move or event there may be something else involved you are not aware of. By doing an end run, you may get your way but it may have negative effects on the overall ministry goals of the organization. And you will likely cause harm to any relationship involved. You may push your agenda ahead 10 yards, but you will do it be knocking down the people you should be working with.

No one likes it when people go over their head, or go around them to get something done. I like to think I am a reasonable guy, and my job is to help ministries accomplish their goals. If I can do something, I will. If I can’t there is a really good reason for it. If there is a policy in place, it’s there for a reason. If I can do it, I will, as long as it doesn’t hurt the overall ministry goals of the organization.

If someone does an end run, it is very disrespectful of the person or team who were bypassed. It says that your immediate goals are more important to you than relationships in the organization or the overall ministry goals of the organization. While you may get your way now, there will be a cost later.

If you are a team player, the “end run” should never be something you run against your fellow team mates. Work together to accomplish your goals. One player may get a first down, but a first down doesn’t win the game. It takes touchdowns to win. And that takes a team of people.