My study of biblical ministry teams began when I first saw in the scriptures how Paul's ministry failed at Athens. From that starting point, I was astounded to discover a third of Paul's cohorts were women. God wants to use women in the church, business and government.
Paul was alone in Athens. The city had many idols. Despite his brilliant sermon on Mars Hill, he completely failed. Why do I say that? Because, there was no church established. The proof? There was no follow-up letter to the church in Athens like there was to Galatia or Ephesus.
Athens was a turning point for Paul. He learned from his failure. I was fascinated with what happened afterwards at Corinth. He went from abject failure to extraordinary success. While in Corinth, he wrote his famous letter to the church at Rome, perhaps the best treatise for theology ever written.
In his letter to Rome, towards the end, Paul listed the team members who helped him, especially noting the women. He commends those women using the same exact words that he used for the men on the team. Everywhere Paul succeeded, he had a team that included women. Who says women can't preach?
After being frustrated at Athens, I believe Paul employed new tactics that made a huge difference in the outcome. He deliberately relied on God's power, not on man's wisdom. And, a team gathered around him so that he could give himself to prayer and the ministry of the word. These two things -- God's power and team effort -- were the key to his crowning career achievement, the church of Ephesus. This is a powerful secret to the gospel's power to take root and transform a city. Indeed, it takes a team to take a city for Christ.
Understanding the concept of teams in the kingdom of God has shaken my ministry world in the best possible way. Let me state something that seems radical. The American church model of solo ministry is unbiblical and ineffective. It has an appearance of success but is sub-par in its results.
Yet we have exported this model around the world. Realize, God uses teams. The triune community of the holy Trinity is a team. Praying is not always solo. Jesus wants us to pray with two or three who agree together. There is great power in united effort.
The Bible is more corporate than we're willing to admit. For instance, we are not saved in isolation. God wants a father or mother in the faith to nurture us. He plants us into a spiritual family. He causes us to "be baptized" into a body of believers. This phrase is passive, meaning someone must do it to us. Within the context of membership in a body, the Holy Spirit differentiates our gifting and functioning. We team up to win.
Ministry in the local body is rarely solitary but usually on teams. There can be pastoral teams, teaching teams, prophetic teams, serving teams, praying teams, apostolic teams, healing teams, evangelistic teams, hospitality teams, praise and worship teams, etc. Any gospel task can have a team dedicated to meet a need.
Personal Note - I adapted this article from my newest book, More Than Equals, available for order online at Amazon.com. I will be speaking in Bella Vista at the Worship Center behind the Boys and Girls Club at 9 a.m. this Saturday, June 15. I'd love to meet you there!
-- Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 06/12/2019
Print Headline: A team impacts cities