I love basketball. I love to watch, coach, and referee basketball. Last century, I actually played basketball.
But there’s one part of college basketball that I just don’t understand: the whistle huddle. Whenever a whistle is blown, the team rushes together, links arms, and starts talking over each other. I don’t understand. What are they talking about? They’ve watched tapes, read the scouting reports, and made a detailed plan. Why are they still talking?
Well, in the light of the past year, now I understand the huddle. When the game is important and the details are constantly changing, you have to huddle.
Last year was hard for all of us. For many of us, our jobs morphed into something we could not have imagined. In my elementary school, the students were covid-glued to their seats while the teachers rotated among rooms with our standing computer desks, teaching both in-person and virtual kids simultaneously.
Teachers all switched rooms at the same time and it wasn’t long before our hallway huddles began. We hesitated in the hallway, shared concerns, solved problems, and encouraged each other. Sometimes our frantic conversation was pragmatic. We might offer words of advice, such as, “The connection for the document camera in room one isn’t tight. I finally got it to work by sticking a Base Ten Block under the right side. Here.” Sometimes the conversation was about care. “A water bottle tipped over on Esaam’s homework and iPad,” one teacher shared. “We cleaned it up, but he’s still upset. Can you check on him?”
Frequently we admitted our own limits as we popcorned back and forth, saying things like, “I tried to get that app to work, but I didn’t have any luck.” To which another might reply, “Same, no luck. We need that app. We’re going to have to put in a ticket to the help desk.” And in frustrating moments like these, the value of teamwork becomes so clear, as yet another person replies, “It’s already done. Submitted it last period.”
Other times we could tell from a face or body language, we needed to wave a pompom. One of us would say, “We can do this, guys! We’ve prepared and we’ve planned. This is important! This is our contribution to this time! We’ve got this!”
Our hallway huddles helped me get through a very difficult season. Our lives with their constantly changing details also need these kinds of huddles. Our weekly church small groups are a version of my hallway huddles. Sometimes you go to small group and you find a surprising solution to a unique problem. Like a teacher repairing a connection using Base Ten Blocks, you might find that the repair you’re searching for can be found through a life lived in community.
Sometimes in small group, you share the care of members. One person starts the care then another member tags in like we did with the crying student. Weekly, small groups give us the space to acknowledge we have problems greater than we can solve. These groups make the time to pray and petition God for help and answers. Teaching was hard last year, but so is everyday life. We need each other to be reminded of God’s promises—promises that motivate and strengthen us.
Hallway huddles certainly strengthened the friendship of my team. We shared struggles but also laughter and everyday life. Church small groups can also bring friendship, laughter, and community.
Small Groups at City Church begin the week of Sunday, September 12th. These include City Groups and Focus Groups, as well as our theology-forward discipleship group, the Space City Fellows Program. Please sign up for a small group if you’re ready to plug into community at City Church.