I’m a NE Patriots fan. The Pats win often. Many know about their outstanding quarterback named Brady, their phenomenal coach named Belicheck, and their tight end named Gronk! What could those stars do without 50 other people, coaches and players, each doing a part? Not much, right? Most people cannot name the men on the front line, but take them away and see how well the stars perform. What happens in Gillette Stadium is a team effort.
The church that I am privileged to pastor is a team of teams, lots of people who are doing their part in the work of God. Some of us stand up front and we get those wonderfully affirming cards on Pastor Appreciation Day. (Thank you!) To some, it looks like the work is being done by one. In fact, what would the church be without teams? I am in awe when I think of all the people who voluntarily sign up to serve.
We have a team that feeds the hungry, several people who invest hours to collect food to distribute to those in need.
Another team assembles early on Sunday morning to prepare to lead us in our time of singing songs of praise and worship, each of them bringing their skills to make our worship experience joyful and Christ-honoring.
Two more teams come together on Sunday afternoon to disciple teens and teach children the Word.
Through the week a team of dedicated people at our preschool and Christian academy shape about 200 little lives.
Another small team keeps our church grounds looking great – week by week.
There are people who pray for our church, their efforts hidden from view. Then, too, there are all those who are financial supporters, who bring their tithe so that we have resources to do the work.
I see it all with such joy, with prayer that each one senses his or her key role in God’s work! Are you committed to a team, creating something together you could never do alone, experiencing the joy of being part of something bigger than yourself?
Teams that enjoy success are cohesive, bonded tightly, because of a shared mission and because individuals are willing to sacrifice self-expression to be part of the whole. “Me” is replaced with “We” in their thoughts. Solomon wrote of the strength we find when we give ourselves to family, church, and community. There is the “man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8, NLT) “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12, NLT)
Is serving all wonder and joy? Hardly! Real teams work hard. They show up when they are tired. They set aside convenience for the effort. They work through internal conflict. (Yes, even good Christians have different opinions about many things.) They value one another, encourage the best, and speak truthfully.
On this Monday morning, I am thanking God for all those teams that function in the church that I am so privileged to lead. My prayer is that what we will do what we do with excellence so that the will and purpose of the Lord who invited us to join His team will be pleased and honored. Practically I want to invite you to become part of His team, too. Being in church does not make a person a Christian; knowing Christ does. However, being in church is the way to become the best Christian you can be: strong, effective, fulfilled, and fruitful.
Here is a word from the Word. It is Paul’s illustration of our connectedness. It shifts the metaphor from team to ‘body’ but the message is the same –
“God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. …The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. …Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. …So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” (1 Corinthians 12:6-7, 12,14, 24-26, NLT)
Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we’re made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit come invade us now
We are Your church
We need Your pow’r in us
We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You’re our joy and prize
To see the captives’ hearts released
The hurt the sick the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause
We are Your church
We pray revive this earth
Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here we pray
Unleash Your kingdom’s pow’r
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
We are the hope on earth
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