The Value and Necessity of Effective Team Ministry
We often consider the value of team ministry within a church context, though the same is applicable and vital regarding itinerant service. A missionary will benefit greatly, from the prayer and support of a team on the ground and other members scattered at various locations they visit along their journeys. Consider the closing verses of Paul’s epistles in Romans, Colossians and Philemon. Names are provided that mean little to us unless we carefully trace the other references to them in scripture and build up a more comprehensive picture. Those names are in God’s word and are there for a reason. As we do that, we realise that team ministry played a vital part in helping the apostles to serve the Lord with greater effectiveness.
Nowadays, there are almost identical fellowships in close proximity from the same denomination that refuse to pool their efforts for the sake of the gospel. They preserve their building though the members of the fellowship are diminishing. Equally there are missions almost identical in composition which may well benefit from working together and importantly, not in competition with each other. Authentic team ministry is a powerful witness of God’s body working in action to the world who know Him not.
The disciples went out in pairs and Paul not only often had a team that preached and taught with him, but also a wider network including those given to hospitality. Hospitality is sometimes underrated though its usefulness becomes apparent when it is considered what would happen if it wasn’t provided. In purely economic and theoretical terms, many missions and itinerant ministries would sink if it wasn’t for the generosity of those providing fellowship, food, accommodation and a place to rest since the extra demands on time, labour and finance would become increasingly strained. Of course, ultimately God is sovereign and provides our needs though He often provides our needs through those He has appointed to do so. Neither should we neglect the fact that hospitality is a requirement for elders.
Team ministry is necessary since the Holy Spirit distributes gifts as He wills. No man is in Island and we are meant to be dependent upon God and a unified body working together for the glory of God. The seven chose to serve freed up the disciples to give themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Those performing administrative or practical skills can similarly free up elders to do exactly the above today. Working cohesively with others is a helpful measure against maverick idealists who are often a law unto themselves and who have unique interpretations concerning how things should be done and who like to be only accountable to themselves.
We live in a culture that increasingly values choice, independence and autonomy though this isn’t a recipe for joyful service in the Lord’s work. Working in a group in the Lord’s service is another means by which we can encourage one another and demonstrates to the world that we are His disciples in that we love one another as God has loved us. It helps us recognise our limitations and give the glory to God for others God has pre-appointed to serve with us.
We are also able to watch out for one another and pray together. Team dynamics often mean that we can use a gift that we might not be able to use otherwise and presents further avenues of service that wouldn’t have been possible if we relied on our own abilities in isolation.
Team ministry is at its best when there is unity amongst the members and when the glory of God is the chief objective, coupled with the realisation that the chief end of man is the glory of God and to enjoy Him forever. Then effective team ministry becomes a joy and a privilege. One could chase a thousand though two put ten thousand to flight. On the other hand, if the Lord is not in the work then we only labour in vain. How good and how pleasant it is when the brethren dwell in unity! All believers have gifts and need to find their place in working together with other believers for the glory of God.