Summary: What does a functioning ministry team look like? See the characteristics...
October 21, 2001
13Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe.
Be courageous. Be strong. 14And everything you do must be done with love. 15You know that Stephanas and his household were the first to become Christians in Greece,and they are spending their lives in service to other Christians. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, 16to respect them fully and others like them who serve with such real devotion.
Paul was an overseer of a great and very difficult work. (Note v.9 "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."). There was a lot of adversity to overcome. He needed great and effective workers. Paul needed a ministry team if the gospel was going to be preached in all the world.
Great ministry teams are needed in our day, just as certainly as in Paul’s day. Let’s examine the QUALITIES that are necessary for a great ministry team.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (1 Cor 16:13 KJV)
The tone of verse 13 is like that of a general’s directing the troops. "Stand fast!" Paul, the apostle of faith, exhorts the church to overcome personal temptations.
He knows they can only do that by faith. Faith can perceive moral dangers. Faith can alarm the mind, and keep the believer’s integrity in tact. Keeping yourself unspotted from the world (cp. Ja 1.27) is an integral part of following Jesus, and serving Him.
Faith also helps the church in overcoming evil that plagues our society. Evil influences are those things that seduce, invade, and wreck our witness in the world. Christians have to learn to stand against these things (e.g., casino gambling). Faith that is strong will do that which is necessary. Jesus warned the Laodicean church against being lukewarm (Re 3.14-16),
What are the essentials for strong faith? How do you possess strong faith? The basics can be simply stated in three areas:
1. Sin is anything that separates us from God. There is a right and wrong about the way we live.
2. Salvation is necessary because of our sin, and it is only available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. There is no other way!
3. Someday God will judge the living and the dead. Once you have received the glorious blessing of being saved, your life is to be dedicated to worship, work and witness. Everything else is temporary, fleeting. Only that which is done for Christ is eternal.
As Paul warned, standing fast in the faith means no compromise. A believer should constantly evaluate his life in the light of the eternal claims of Christ. A ministry team cannot function with half-hearted effort. Believers must serve as if eternity hangs in the balance each day.
Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
(1 Cor 16:14-16 KJV)
Love is something which can (and must) be applied in every situation. In the day to day living out of our Christian discipleship, it is only the poured-on, hands-on, nothing-held-back, "love-your-brother approach" that keeps us from being back sliders and useless in the kingdom.
Love is the practice of filling needs. Paul mentions Stephanas and his family being converted. The very next word is that they’ve addicted themselves to meeting the needs of saints. William Barclay translates verse 15: "...and that they have laid themselves out to be of help to Christ’s people.")
Love shines through that way. Leaders in the early church were never appointed or elected. People who served and developed a reputation for being unselfish and effective just did whatever needed to be done.
Perhaps that is some light sorely in need to be shone in our day. We who hold elected "offices" in the church would do well to recall that our charge is to do all in love, to meet needs like Stephanas and his family.
An addiction to ministry reveals itself as active, genuine love. What does it look like in action?
Encouraging the poor in spirit. I know of no greater ministry than encouragement. It may be a card, a call, or a collection, but it won’t go unspoken. The need will be met. Ministry teams need unselfish players.
Refusing to be unkind.
Active love seeks to be right, with God and each other. You can’t be either without both. Ministry teams fall apart when a player gets his feelings hurt and washes his hands of the group.
Fixing what’s broken.
Whether it is a broken relationship, a creaky door hinge, or a lost soul that needs a witness, ministry teams find a way to make it their business until the job is done.