The end of 2018 saw loads of activity going on in Jubilee, mainly, of course, to do with Christmas. There was Christmas carols in Stockton, a Christmas fun day at Melbourne House, Candy Canes given out in Middlesbrough, lots of Christmas parties, carols around Eshwood Square and of course our big Christmas Celebration!
One of the things that stood out for me in all these was the fact that they all relied on teams of people working together. People from different backgrounds and with different skills, working together to achieve some pretty exciting things! Because let’s face it, hundreds of thousands of people in Teesside don’t know Jesus and churches across this area are called to show and tell them the joy news of a God who loves them and wants to know them.
So as we begin a new year, I’ve been thinking about teams. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Teams start with God - Our Trinitarian God operates in team. In the Godhead, there is the distinct persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in that perfect team, we start to understand that God loves team. Michael Reeves in his book, The Good God, says,
‘The Father, Son and Spirit have always been in delicious harmony, and thus they create a world where harmonies - distinct beings, persons or notes working in unity - are good, mirroring the very being of the triune God’.
Teams are in the Bible - There are tons of examples of teams in the Bible. Jesus sent his wider team of 72 out in teams of two (Luke 10). Paul was certainly not a one-man band and always worked in team. Just look at how he ends his letter to Titus (one of his team):
‘As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there. Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith..’
Teams get more done (eventually) - Working in team can sometimes feel and be a slower option. That’s just the nature of people who are not all the same. Yet, that’s also the thing that makes them more effective in the long run. The writer of Ecclesiastes writes ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour’. Ecc 4:9. We have an unrealistic (and dare I say unbiblical) view of ourselves if we think we can achieve more on our own.
Teams can build friendship - When I meet new people who are new to Jubilee and are looking to become part of the church, I will almost always encourage them to find a team to serve in. It may not necessarily be something they have a passion for, however in joining that team, they will make new friends; friends that will look out for them, encourage them, invite them round for a meal and vice versa.
I want to encourage you, if you’re not already, to get into a team. We have loads, whether it’s Alpha teams, Sunday serving teams, Social action teams, Youth teams. Community groups are also great teams to be part of. You might not initially see them as teams, but as you do life together, focusing on what it means to all follow Jesus and live in the power of his Spirit, you’re a team! If you’re not in a Community group in the church, why not find and join one in 2019.
Teams can achieve great things. Many of us spent the summer watching an England football team, against all the odds, make it to a World Cup semi-final, because they learnt to play as a team. Imagine what you and I, carrying a cross-shaped message of hope, rescue and joy, empowered and filled with God’s Spirit can see happen!
It sounds too good to be true, but this has happened throughout history since the first church in Jerusalem was persecuted. Those scattered believers planted new churches in the places where they settled.
The age old question of whether Christmas gets earlier each year. Perhaps it points to something deeper than we think.