Summary: Evangelism and church growth, just like all of life, is a team effort.
Becoming a Team Player
Eph 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”
Every sports team has its stars – the John Elways, Ken Griffey Jrs., Michael Jordans. They’re the reason fans come out to watch the games, and they often find themselves in the center of the spotlight, overcome with adulation. The fans may not grasp it, but the players themselves understand one basic truth about team sports; stars wouldn’t be stars without the support of the team.
Every year around Christmas time Dan Marino does the commercial for Isotoner Gloves, “Take care of the hands that take care of you.” The point of the commercial (beyond selling gloves) is that Dan Marino wouldn’t be able to pull off all of those 4th quarter come-backs without the assistance of his front line. That’s because, even though the stars get much of the glory, football is a team sport.
It’s this way in other areas of life. Whenever movie stars win an Oscar, they give the same basic speech, “I would like to thank all the people who helped make this night possible – my agent, my manager, my director, my producer,” and on and on. That’s because it’s the same in Hollywood as it is in business, or sports, or any other area of life, it requires a great deal of effort on the part of many people for one person to succeed.
On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, he was the focus of attention for the entire planet. Today, whenever the Apollo voyage to the moon is discussed, Neil Armstrong’s name is the one everyone remembers. His statement, “One small step for man..” will be remembered for generations. What often isn’t remembered, however, is the fact that the Apollo expedition took place because a very large and committed team of individuals sacrificed day and night for years to make it happen. Neil Armstrong was only one of 218,000 involved in that single project. He may have gotten most of the glory, but he will be the first to tell you that it was a team effort. That’s the way it is with every area of life. Life is a team sport. God means for us to work together, to be flexible, to love in all things, to be successful and happy. One person alone cannot do it.
It’s the same way at church. Church is a team effort. In order to do the work that God has called us to do, we must work together as a team. God’s method for the church is that it operates as a team. The old model is that the church hires a “professional” or group of professionals to do the work of the ministry for the people, who are the recipients of ministry. That’s not the biblical model. The bible tells us God’s method in Eph 4:11-12 “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
God’s plan of evangelism is teamwork, but it’s not always easy for us. A survey among missionaries revealed that their #1 problem on the mission field wasn’t loneliness, culture shock, or finances, as one might expect. The #1 problem missionaries face, according to missionaries, is the inability to get along with other missionaries. It’s hard to imagine that a group of individuals who leave family, friends, and financial security would have difficulty getting along, but this is the case.
Evangelism and church growth, just like all of life, is a team effort. In order to succeed as a church and as individuals, we must develop a Team Player mentality. In Eph 4 Paul shows us how to do this. V.2 “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in LOVE.” There are key words in this verse that are the basis for developing an attitude of a team player. Paul said, “Be HUMBLE, Be GENTLE, Be PATIENT, BE LOVING. Looking at these attitudes and considering how we can further develop them in our own lives is our purpose today. First of all, Paul said, “BE Humble.” That means having an attitude that says…
I. The TEAM Is More Important Than Me.
When Lou Holtz began his coaching career at the Univ of Minnesota he gave every player on his team a T-shirt. Printed across the chest in large block letters was the word, “TEAM.” Beneath TEAM, in tiny letters was the word “Me.” Holtz told his team, “This T-shirt serves to remind you that the team is more important than you are, and you should always put the team above you.”