Summary: The key to the success of this congregation’s ministry is a team, a team working together to make a difference for the glory of God. What the Apostle Paul says about teamwork. (Pastor Appreciation Day)
Randall Cunningham is a pretty good football quarterback, but he doesn’t seem to be as good as when he played for the Minnesota Vikings. Randall is an excellent athlete, but during his years in Philadelphia, he never began to accomplish what he did with the Vikings during the 1998 season. He is now playing for the Cowboys, but I don’t think he will ever get a passing rating even close to the 106 he had a couple of years ago. Why? I think because it is easier to be a great quarterback when you are throwing the ball to Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Having people like Randall McDaniel and Todd Steussie blocking for you on the offensive line also helps. Randall had a great season in 1998 because he was playing on a very good team. Do you believe I said that about those guys in purple? My main point, however, is that it takes a team effort on the football field to make a great quarterback. The other ten members of an offensive unit, plus the rest of the team members, all effect a quarterback’s performance. Someone with average talent can become a good quarterback with a very good team. Someone with outstanding talent will be only a mediocre quarterback if he is on a poor team.
Friends, on Pastor Appreciation Sunday, we need to remember that it takes a team effort in the church as well. As the Senior Pastor, I am kind of the quarterback of this church. Just like in football, it is very difficult to be a good pastor unless you are part of a good church. I think of a number of guys who were my classmates in seminary. They are men who love the Lord and who are very gifted and talented, and yet they struggle as pastors. I said to one discouraged friend, "If you were the pastor of my church in Chisholm, I’m sure you would be doing better in ministry, because this church helps a pastor do a good job." I am blessed to be quarterback of a great team.
On Pastor Appreciation Sunday people say nice things about me. When I was preparing for this sermon, I could not be certain that was going to happen today, but based on previous years, I was pretty sure it would. That makes me a bit uncomfortable. I know God is the One who deserves the glory for any good things that I have done. Without Him, as Jesus said in John 15, I can do nothing. But another reason why I am uncomfortable is that there are so many others who help me do what I do. It takes a team effort at First Baptist Church. I want to make sure my teammates, not just me, receive praise for the good things that happen through my ministry and through the ministry of this church. Most important to me is the person lined up right next to me in the backfield, my wife Nancy. This week I was reminded again of how blessed I am to have her as my life partner. She went out of town to a funeral. The day and a half she was gone made me realize I would get very little work done as a pastor if I had to take charge of running our household and caring for our three sons. There are so many ways that Nancy helps me be a better pastor. Proverbs says that a good wife is worth far more than rubies, and I know that a whole truck-load of rubies would not begin to equal the blessings Nancy brings to my life. There are other team members I depend on as well. One is my secretary, Barb Sjogren. Not only is she extremely good at doing all the secretarial things, but she is committed to seeing this church honor the Lord and has many creative insights about our ministry. There are a number of very good ideas that I have gotten credit for over the years that really were Barb’s suggestions. Then there is Pastor Chris and Roger. I’m not sure how I was able to keep up with things around here before they came on board. Again they are both very committed to seeing this church make a difference in our community for the glory of Christ. Another pastor recently told me how his associate had tried to undermine his ministry, but that is not something I have ever worried about for even a second with Chris and Roger.
And the list goes on. There are all sorts of people at First Baptist Church on whom I depend as part of our team. People serving on boards and committees, Sunday School teachers and Club workers, musicians, choir and Worship Team members, the ushers, the greeters, the women who work in the kitchen, Robert who puts up the church sign, and those who work in the nursery. It would be very challenging for me to preach a sermon if no one was willing to work in the nursery, because Brock would be right up here on the platform competing with me for your attention. Then there are the youth workers in our church. We have three couples (Stolhammers, Corradis, Nelsons) working with our Senior High group, plus Jim and Lois who teach the High School Sunday School class, plus another seven or eight people who work with the Junior High students. There are churches with full-time youth pastors whose student ministry does not begin to match the quality of ours. I am very blessed to serve as the quarterback of this team. This church is being used by the Lord for His glory, and it is a team effort. I really agree with something that one of our members wrote on our web site a couple of weeks ago: It is so nice to see 80% of the people doing the work, instead of 20%, as in most other cases. What a wonderful family this church is to us. So, please don’t ever make the mistake of thinking it is the pastor, or the pastors, who make this church what it is. The key to the success of this congregation’s ministry is a team, a team working together to make a difference for the glory of God.