20/20: 20 Lessons From 20 Years–Lesson #2: Ministry Happens Best in Teams

Why we so often go it alone, I’ll never know. Because the most effective, life-giving ministry I’ve ever experienced has been with dynamic, unified teams. We’re simply better together, every time.

As of May 1, I’ve been in full-time vocational ministry for 20 years. It’s time to reflect, and so I’m posting 20 lessons I’ve learned in these 20 years, throughout the month of May. 

So far, here’s what we’ve got: Lesson #1: Good Mentors Matter. 

Lesson #2 sounds obvious: Ministry Happens Best In Teams. No, duh–bit of a no-brainer, really. Given that the Holy Spirit has gifted the body of Christ with a diversity of gifts, scattered liberally throughout, we cannot be the church without each other.

And yet I’ve found that on a daily level, we often go solo. As followers of Jesus, we’ll struggle and serve alone, when we could be walking and working with others. As a pastor, I spend most of my time reading, studying and preparing messages alone, as well serving in other areas of ministry. Personally, I’ve found that going it alone is often a symptom of my busyness, because I haven’t prepared enough in advance to include other people in what I’m doing.

pulling togetherBut when I consider the most fruitful experiences I’ve had in ministry, when I think about where the magic really happens, it’s when a team of people, gifted and called and committed, work together to see needs met and lives changed. Teams who pull off successful Alpha programs and witness people coming alive in Jesus. Dynamic duos who pray together for God’s work among us. Music teams who spend the time needed to grow musically, relationally and spiritually so that they can lead the church in heartfelt worship.  Teaching teams who study and share and prepare with each other, for the sake of the larger body of Christ. The Holy Spirit does something special when a team of people let him use them to build his church together.

All in all, teams can make the difference between sustained, fruitful ministry and inevitable burn out. They also enable more significant ministry to happen, as more people are using their gifts in God’s work. We were not meant to operate solo, and we do so to our detriment and the dysfunction of the body of Christ. We are simply better together, every time.

What’s the best team you’ve ever been part of?
Why are we often tempted to do ministry alone?

Up next:  Lesson #3: Grace is the Operational Mode of Ministry

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