Being part of a ministry team

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Sunday: 11:00am/6:30pm Wednesday: Prayer 7:30pm  

Gregg Street, Lisburn, BT27 5AW

There is no secret: ministry is best done in a team. Creation was the result of team work: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The best advice Moses got was to develop a team of other leaders to help out. Jesus formed a ministry team of 12 men and called them apostles. He gave them a purpose and authority. He also divided them in smaller teams and sent them out two by two. He did the same with other 70 or more disciples. Paul begins the greatest missionary journey in a team. As he moves along the team grows. And it keeps growing. In Romans 16 you get a sense of how important team work was for Paul. This is an amazing chapter where we learn that real leaders know their team members by name. 

However, team work is not easy. By nature, we are very individualistic and focused on personal needs more than the needs of others. That's why Paul warns the church of Philippi on how important it is to work hard to keep the unity within a ministry team. 
A ministry should have at least one team. As we have seen with Jesus, a team can be divided into smaller teams in order to be more effective. No matter how big or small the team is, each team member has three basic needs that need to be met. 

1. To Belong 
The need to belong is the most basic human need. Yes, we all belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, His Body. Yes, we belong to the local church. However, I think the need to belong must go much deeper because and it reveals much more personal needs. Paul, in most of his writings, makes this very clear: we belong to Jesus Christ. This idea of belongingto Christ means we are already acceptedin Christ. (For further study look at Rom. 1: 6, 8; 1 Cor. 1: 4; Gal. 5: 24; Eph. 3: 6; Phil. 1:1, 4:21; 1 Thess. 1: 1, 5: 18; 2 Thess. 1: 1)
As you can see belonging gives us a clear sense of being accepted. Not only that we belong to Christ but we are also accepted by God in Christ. Look at Romans 15: 7 "Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory." 
It is natural to see smaller teams being formed within a large team. This makes ministry more effective. Jesus had 12 apostles. The 12 were divided in 3 groups of 4 and they were always mentioned together. The apostles were sent two by two, however Jesus seem to have three intimates that accompanied him everywhere: Peter, James and John. Out of all 12, only one seem to have been closer to Jesus, nicknamed: "the apostle Jesus loved." 
This can cause problems. Jesus had to intervene, several times, when the apostles seemed to argue about who is the greatest. There are times when natural relationships, personalities, temperaments, skills and training can be the cause of smaller team formation. In spite of all that, there is no excuse for divisions and cliques. They belong to a sinful attitude of selfishness and preferential treatment, which Jesus strongly rebuked. You can belong to a bigger team by belonging to a smaller team. 

2. To Be Used 
The second need is just as important as the first. We need to be used by God. In fact, inactivity shows a lack of understanding, in our part, of God's call and gifting on our lives. If we believe that God has a purpose for everyone and that God has given us a spiritual gift, than the church is responsible to give you the opportunity to serve. 
The main responsibility of elders, according to Ephesians 4, is not to fulfil your physical, emotional or spiritual needs because only God can. Their main responsibility is to equip the believers for the ministry. You cannot be used unless there is space for you to be used. 
Then comes the grace of allowing you to fail. Twice, in Ephesians 4: 2 and Col 3: 13, Paul encourages the church to allow for each other faults. We all do things differently. Disagreements on how things should be done are not excuses for division but opportunities for grace. 
The greatest test on whether you really want to be used by God is your willingness to learn, to be taught. A "know it all" attitude is a proof of pride. James develops this topic so well: And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

3. To Develop
It is God's grace that we develop. This development is a reflection of the transformation that takes place in you, not that the gift God has given you changes. The Holy Spirit stays the same. The spiritual gift you have belongs to Him. He gives spiritual gifts as he pleases. Remember, the spiritual gift is God's supernatural grace given to you to perform a work for Him. Everything He does is perfect. We cannot develop or improve it. But we are not perfect. We should never focus on trying to develop our gift. What needs to develop is us. Team work changes us. Most of us are not good team players because of our natural tendency to be individualistic. 
I am not the same person that I was when I started full time ministry. I changed because team work changed me. I develop as a follower of Jesus Christ. I grew up in grace, I made many mistakes which I regret, but I learnt from them all. The greatest development in my life was when I learnt to work in a team. 
Working in a team, small or big, must develop you as a follower of Jesus Christ. If the team does not change you, then you are not developing. Remember how stubborn Paul was in relation to Mark. His was so set in his ways that the issue to team work cause him and Barnabas to have a heated argument and separate. It was much later, after learning to work in a team, that Paul sends for Mark and considers him useful. 

In conclusion,I would like you to reflect on these things. Whether you lead a team, are part of a team or simply want to join a ministry team; take some time to ask yourself: do I belong, am I being used by God and am I developing as a follower of Jesus? If the answers to these three questions are not satisfactory to you, then drop me an email. Tell me more about it and we'll work together, making sure you are well equipped for the ministry. 

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 
4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8     he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2

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