What’s your favorite team or organization? Why? (And hey, who doesn’t love a team with a mascot that looks, and frankly acts, like Barney’s deformed brother? –>)
What’s the best team, organization, or group you’ve been a part of? What made it such a positive experience?
If you haven’t already guessed, we’re going to look at the importance of teamwork. The people you pursue a God-given vision with are the people who’ll make it real to everyone else; therefore, and the more life you share with them, the more life your vision will take on. Your team isn’t just a group of people trying to accomplish a task; hopefully you’re also becoming friends working toward a common vision. As Watchman Nee notes in Changed Into His Likeness, “Everyone knows how difficult it is for Christians to live together! When by the grace of God it happens, and continues to happen, even hell takes notice.”
Friends have fun together, too. Sometimes a little fun is exactly what you need to become closer and move forward together. So consider working through today’s post with your team—and I’ll write with that assumption in place. Maybe it’ll even serve as a good holiday icebreaker. (And if you’re doing this alone, talk to yourself instead of the group. It’s OK, nobody’s gonna hear you talk to yourself anyway—you’re alone, right?) Have some fun today, and discover how far you’ve already come together:
Give everyone a piece of paper; make sure they all have something to write with. Then say something like:
For the next three minutes, you’re going to spend time discovering what you have in common. And you’re going to have to talk to each other to find out what those things are. Maybe you like the same kind of music, the same foods, or the same activities. So find a partner and ask.” (And again, if you’re alone, think of your team members, then start thinking this through.) You can’t take the cheap way out and talk about physical features like ‘We both have blue eyes’ or ‘We both have noses.’ Discover something new about the actual person you’re talking with.
Once your pair has come up with something, find someone else to pair up with and discover something you have in common with that person. Then go on to the next person. You can’t use the same thing twice; it has to be something unique to the pair you’re in.
Again, you have three minutes to come up with as many matches as you can. Go!
Give a warning when 30 seconds are remaining. When time is up, find out who has the longest list and give him or her a round of applause. Then discuss:
• How easy or difficult was it to discover things you have in common?
• What activity might you be able to do with someone you talked with, based on what you discovered together?
Let’s look at other ways we can build teamwork as Christians. Today we’re not going to break down a Bible story for our case study, but we are going to look at a longer passage where Paul is encouraging a specific church:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:3-13, ESV).
• Which of the roles Paul talks about best describes you? Which of your current (or potential) teammates would fit into some of the other gifts mentioned?
• Look again at verses 9-13 (the 2nd paragraph). Who do you know who excels in some of the specific character qualities listed here? Talk a little about him or her.
• Think about the “teammates” you currently have in pursuing this vision. What other things do you already have in common? How could you use those in a way that builds up your team?
• How could you also celebrate the variety of gifts, passions, and qualities in your team members? Be specific.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together, puts it this way: “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” So before our next activity, let’s take a quick step back, exhale, and think about a few things we may have forgotten or overlooked over the course of this season.
Find some wall space you can use, at least temporarily—if you can leave your work up afterward, all the better. Either put up a long piece of newsprint, or give everyone two pieces of paper. Also give everyone a Sharpie or marker. Divide your sheet or wall space into three sections—”Before” on the left, and “After” on the right; leave the middle space blank for now. Then say something along the lines of:
Think about the fact that you’re working through this session together. Now, think about the fact that there are people around the country either working through this right now or who already have worked through it***. So, you’re already a part of a much bigger group. And you’re part of a far bigger group than that. You’re a part of Jesus’ church. The church He started. The church He’s been renewing the vision of for centuries. The church He’s coming back for.
The vision you’re a part of is going to get bigger, too. As that happens, you’ll draw more and more people onto your team, and that will mean sharing the vision and allowing it to expand with each person you share it with. So we’re going to have a little more fun today making that idea come to life. We’ve talked a lot about sharing the “big picture.” But today—with this entire group as our team—we’re going to make a big picture. And all of you are going to contribute.
Each of you are going to draw two pictures. Don’t worry about your artistic ability or the lack thereof—just draw two pictures that illustrate the following: The first picture, on the ‘Before’ side, should portray your church or ministry today. Your second picture, on the ‘After’ side, should represent what you believe your church could be in the future, as result of this vision God’s planted in each of you. Make sure there’s a connection between each of your ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures.
You’ll have 10 minutes to make your contributions to our poster. So grab a marker and get started.
After 10 minutes, bring everyone back together. Ask for a few volunteers to share about their drawings. Congratulate everyone for bringing their vision to the table—or more specifically, the wall. Allow them to take a good long look at their full “Before” and “After” pictures. Then discuss:
• What do your “Before” and “After” frames tell you about how we currently view the church—and about the kind of church/ministry we envision?
• What did you discover about each other through the pictures and visions we’ve shared together?
• What connections do you see between the different pictures people drew? What does that suggest about what God can do with the teams you’re on?
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:1-3, ESV).
Take another look at the column in the middle of your big picture, then discuss:
• What would best help get your team “working together with one mind and purpose” right now—and help move them from the “Before” column to the “After” column?
Read Philippians 2:1-3 again, and then close your group’s prayer time. Ask God to give each person a deeper sense of belonging to one another—and a deeper sense of how much all of you belong to Jesus. Ask God to open each person’s eyes to new opportunities to connect with their “teammates,” and to help each other allow God to take those connections as far as He wants to.
***True, this is only a blog post, but as it’s based on a session from Season 6 in the Growing Out series, Growing in Your Mission, it’s also a true statement. (And you can get it dirt-cheap right now — follow the second link.) Thus, to my knowledge, there’s very arguably been 5,000 people who’ve worked through this alongside you. If you let that sink in at your end, I’ll let that sink in at mine. 🙂