Last week I served alongside a team of pastors at a ministry school in Debrecen, Hungary, a city I've visited four times. Even though I don't speak Hungarian (it's one of the most difficult languages on the planet), I had a blast working with my friends Zsolt, Eugene, István, Pál and Attila. We shared meals, worshiped and prayed together and opened our hearts on a deep level—with the help of my interpreter and, on a few occasions, the Google Translate program on my phone.
Nobody tried to be the star as we shared teaching slots during the week. We preferred each other and encouraged each other. And we laughed a lot because we really enjoyed each other's company. Every leader contributed his part—and in the end the students were blessed that their teachers flowed in harmony.
Teamwork is an essential part of God's plan for ministry. In both the Old and New Testaments, we see teams of people working side-by-side to further His kingdom. Moses shared leadership with Aaron and Miriam (see Micah 4:6) and David had a group of "mighty men" who performed valiant deeds under his command. Solomon appointed a team to serve as his deputies, Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem with teams of workers, and Esther's maidens prayed and fasted with her before she saved Israel from genocide.
Jesus loves teams. He gathered a group of hand-picked disciples and then sent them out to minister in pairs (Luke 10:1). He involved them in feeding the multitudes and healing sick people. In the same way, the apostle Paul never traveled anywhere alone, and he always credited the people who helped him. His love for Timothy, Phoebe, Luke, Silvanus, Titus, Priscilla and other team players is an obvious backdrop in his epistles.
So if teamwork is so essential to Christianity, why do we prefer the celebrity model of ministry today? Here are five clear reasons that teamwork is a better approach:
1. Teamwork accomplishes more. Anybody who has ever chopped down a tree with an axe or painted a house knows the job gets done quicker and easier when more people are working. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says: "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor." Ministry leaders are compared to oxen in the Bible, and Jesus said He would place a "yoke" on us when we are called to ministry (see Matt. 11:29). A yoke connects a team of oxen. Jesus never referred to his followers as renegade stallions who run off on their own. He called us to be yoked together with others. You will not achieve as much if you insist on doing everything yourself.
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