Sunday, July 27, 2008

Effective Team Ministry - Part 3

This is post 3 of 3 on the topic of Effective Team Ministry. If you wish to start with the first post on this study, go to the post that's dated July 19, 2008. To view a corresponding PowerPoint presentation as you read, go to: Effective Team PPT in a new window, enabling you to read and watch in side-by-side windows. Please note: this material was originally presented as a seminar for missionaries serving with Baptist Mid-Missions, which is based in Cleveland, OH. The material is copyrighted, but may be used with written permission obtained by writing: permission.

Slides 5-7 - God's Plan For Organizing People

The idea to organize people into teams began with God. On the sixth day of creation week, God made Adam and Eve and formed them into a team. We refer to the nature of their relationship as a team with the word marriage; nevertheless, Adam and Eve were a team. Moses, the human author of the Pentateuch, commented on the unity that exists between husband and wife, unity being one of several critical elements of effective team dynamics (see Genesis 2:24).

The Church serves as a second example of God organizing people into teams. The Apostle Paul told believers at Corinth: "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13). The word body tips us off that we talking once again about the same dynamics as those that exist in the husband/wife relationship. A "body", especially a Christian "body", is everything a team is and more. Interestingly enough, the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of a body in Ephesians 5:22-33 to teach husbands and wives their principle duties toward one another.

Perhaps one reason why so many people today speak of working and ministering in teams rather than bodies is because of all the emphasis on sports in our culture. Regardless, what is important is recognizing that team and bodies have similar dynamics. As stated above, things that are true of teams are also true of bodies. And in the case of a Christian "body", it gets even better - more about that a little later.

One valuable implication of the similarities between teams and "bodies" is the availability of so much Scripture relating to "body" dynamics. For example, 1 Corinthians chapters 12-13 is a goldmine of both theory and practice on effective team ministry, since they deal extensively with what it means for individual Christians to exist and serve in a much larger body of believers. Even 1 Corinthians 13, "the love chapter", is intended not so much as a guide for individual relationships, but for relationships within the "body" or the team. Of course, it helps for people to behave lovingly in their individual relationships; but, in relation to overall effectiveness of a body of believers to accomplish its mission, love is indispensable. Jesus said: "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul echoes the same from a different angle:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

Love is not the only "body" or team dynamic addressed in 1 Corinthians 12-13. In the next post, we'll begin looking at other key ingredients of teams.

Discussion and Application:
1. How else might God's role in forming people into teams or bodies factor into team dynamics? What Bible verses (including any from 1 Corinthians 12-13) speak to your answer?
2. How would you define loving behavior in relation to people serving together on the same team?
3. Can you think of any examples of how the dynamic of love played a role (either in its presence or absence) in the effectiveness of a team you have served on? What happened?

Next post: Ingredients of Teams


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