TEAMWORK AND GOD'S CHURCH
By Gary Lisle May 25, 2008 at LWCF
Billy Graham tells of a time, during the early years of his preaching ministry, when he was due to lead a crusade meeting in a town in South Carolina, and he needed to mail a letter. He asked a little boy in the main street how he could get to the post office. After the boy had given him directions, Billy said, "If you come to the central Baptist church tonight, I'll tell you how to get to heaven." The boy replied, "No thanks, you don't even know how to get to the post office!" Billy Graham may not know his way to the post office, but he certainly knows how one gets to heaven.
While researching for this topic I came upon a great Acronym for Teamwork:
T. - Together;
E. - Enjoying;
A. - A;
M - Ministry;
W - Worshiping;
O - Our;
R - Righteous;
K - King
Great Teamwork makes more things happen than anything else in any organization - more than skills, qualifications, or money.
The story is told of a soldier whose life was changed after he successfully completed the obstacle course in Air Force basic training on his first attempt. In fact, he completed the course far ahead of everyone else. But as he stood feeling satisfied within himself, he was immediately confronted by his drill sergeant who demanded,"Where are all your buddies, soldier?" "Back there, sergeant," the soldier replied. "I won."
The sergeant barked, "Soldier, the obstacle course isn't about coming first! It's about finishing! Guess what! Everybody finishes or nobody wins. So go back and run it again, and this time, help the guys who are struggling along the way."
That began the soldier's transformation from a lone competitor obsessed with winning, into an encourager whose goal was to build teamwork.
Jesus didn't move through life as a solitary figure, living a perfect life alone. As He neared the cross, He poured out His heart in prayer for His disciples. In John 17: verses 11 and 12 we read: "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by the name you gave me."
Jesus himself showed us what teamwork was all about. When Christians work together, they divide the effort, thus multiplying the effect.
A well known football manager once commented in an interview that it is easy to get good players. It's getting them to play together that's the hard part. This is no different with believers.
A farmer noticed a highway department truck pulling over to the shoulder of the road. One man got out and dug a hole and then got back into the truck. Soon after, a different man got out and filled in the hole. They did this about every 50 meters down the road.
Finally the farmer approached them and asked what on earth they were doing.
"We're on a highway beautification project, and the guy who plants the trees is home sick today." Moral of the story: No Unity or Teamwork, No productivity.
The Greek word for church is Ekklesia which literally means 'called out ones.' For we as Christians, we are called out of the world by Christ, into Christ. God blesses the 'called out ones' who work together in unity for His cause. God gave us many different gifts, as mentioned in Corinthians 12 and we need to co-ordinate our efforts to glorify His church.
Teamwork can be summed up in five short words: 'We believe in each other." Why do we believe in each other, because we all have faith in our heavenly father who put us together in this church for a reason.
Teamwork is the fuel that allows Common People, like you and I to produce Uncommon Results.
True teamwork is a two way street: Reaching out to help others and also being open and receptive to help when it is offered. That is a tough one for a lot of us.
No fellowship could ever function properly without the dedication and commitment of those willing to contribute to building God's house. In the reading from Corinthians 12, Paul compares the body of Christ to the human body. Each part has a specific role to play and is necessary for the body to function as a whole. The parts are different for a purpose and in their differences they must work together. And despite our differences we do have one thing in common - our faith. Believers are in the world TOGETHER - there is no such thing as private or individualistic Christianity. The same Spirit fills our innermost being and as members of God's family, we may have different interests and gifts, but we have the same common goal - to glorify and honour heavenly father.
You can learn a lot about teamwork by studying nature. Here is a fascinating fact about the Honey Bee. On a warm day, about half the bees stay inside beating their wings while the other half go out to gather pollen and nectar. Because of the beating wings, the temperature inside the hive is about 10 degrees cooler than outside. The bees rotate duties and the bees that cool the hive one day are honey gatherers the next. Built in air conditioners.
Or how about Geese and their flying pattern. Have you ever wondered why geese fly in a very organized V formation. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. We can discover a lot about teamwork by studying geese - their flight patterns and in-flight habits.
1. The leadership role is rotated. When the lead goose gets tired, it will fly in the wing and another will assume the point position.
2. The V formation helps create an upward air current and this gives the flock about 70% greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
3. When one goose gets sick or is having trouble, two fall out of formation with it and stay with it until the struggler is able to fly again.
4. The rear geese do the honking. This encourages the leaders and tells them that the others are still with them.
In our world of sport, teamwork is prevalent in most activities. Take Track and Field for example. Although most of the events involve individual participation, there is still a great deal of teamwork. It starts with set-up when we arrive at a meet, followed by group warm-up often lead by senior athletes or coaches, and right in to competition where those not taking part act as support by clapping or cheering each other on. And then there are the relays which do involve 4 runners plus a lot of support staff.
By working together, the athletes and these creatures from nature accomplish what they set out to do.
I believe our church works a lot in the same way. Every Sunday morning, there are anywhere from 12 to 20 people involved in the service. We have those who set-up the chairs and the sound system, those that provide the refreshments, greeters, pre-service prayer team, worship team, speaker, person reading the scripture, the one leading in prayer, Sunday school teachers, nursery attendants, and hall monitors. That's a big team all knowing their jobs but working together to make things run well. And what about the pot-lucks or the meals that the church family provides for those that have suffered recent loses. And a very recent example would be the garage sale held yesterday. Over 20 people, under the leadership of Diane and Susan, helped make it a success. I could go on with others but I hope you get the point.
Throughout the Bible we read stories about people working together as teams to achieve a mission. Noah and his family worked together to build the ark and they also collect the animals to go into the boat. ( Genesis 6: 11 to Genesis 7:5)
'11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress [wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. [d] 16 Make a roof for it and finish [e] the ark to within 18 inches [f] of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them." 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.'
Or what about Nehemiah and the building of the wall around Jerusalem. With a great team, this was accomplished in 52 days. ( You can read about this in Nehemiah 6: 15 to 7: 3)
We can't forget Moses. He tried to do it alone but it became way too much for him to be judge over the entire Israelite nation, so he got help and the work became a team effort. ( Exodus 18: 13 - 27)
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"
15 Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."
17 Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.
Moses was faced with another crisis in Numbers 11: 4 to 17. The people needed food and they wailed to Moses who could not carry all these people by himself, so the Lord told him to get 70 elders to team-up with him.
And most importantly, what about Jesus and the 12 disciples. It could be argued that this was probably the greatest team ever assembled. ( throughout the Gospels but the great commission in particular in Matthew 28: 18 to 20)
The Great Commission
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Great teamwork makes things happen more than anything else in our fellowship. It is biblical and part of God's will for us as believers. When we apply it, God blesses us. As believers, we have a responsibility to care for each other, communicate effectively, and honour the teams success above our own. A good point to remember is it is not about you.
If you are not involved with the team here at LWCF, I want to encourage you to become a part and if you are, I want to encourage you to keep on keeping on and grow to become an even greater member of this team.
We are a fellowship of contributors who don't get caught-up in just consuming what God has to offer. What a great privilege it is for me to be a part of all that God has given us as a church family. Let's never lose sight of His wonder, His grace and His glory.