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Team Players

Ryan Joy

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April 7, 2024

— Watch the Full Sermon —

“grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).

This week, college basketball fans turned the page from the “Madness” of March to April’s Final Four. Matt Painter’s Boilermakers will face Dan Hurley’s Huskies tomorrow night, as each hopes to add an NCAA championship banner. But no college basketball coach has won more championships than John Wooden, the “Wizard of Westwood.” Wooden knew a thing or two about getting his teams to work together. He said, “A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.” He also said, “Team spirit means you are willing to sacrifice personal considerations for the welfare of all. That defines a team player.” As our text makes crystal clear (Eph. 4:1-16), Christ wants “each part” of his body to contribute as a team player (Eph. 4:16).

“A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.” – John Wooden

The Working Church

From the earliest days of Christianity, churches were local groups who not only gathered regularly (Acts 2:42-47; 20:7; Heb. 10:23-25) but also worked together to spread the Word (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3; 1 Cor. 14:23-25; 1 Thes. 1:8), build each other up (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 4:11-16), and care for one another (Acts 4:32-37; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 1 Tim. 5:3-16). Churches are spiritual families where we hold up the truth (1 Tim. 3:15) to grow and strive side-by-side for our Lord (Phil. 1:27; 4:1-4).

Put the I in Team

Years ago, Harvard Business Review ran a case study on why some business teams function well while others fail. They found that failing teams often had team members skilled in their disciplines (for example, design or engineering). The successful teams also had those skills. But they succeeded because team members also had another skill set — the ability to collaborate. The article illustrated the two skill sets by imagining the individual disciplines as a straight up and down “I” bar and the collaboration skills as the horizontal line across the top of a “T.” To win at work, the groups needed to have both so that they each did their jobs well (“I”) and could integrate their separate parts (“T”) and accomplish the project goals together.

In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul illuminates some “T-bar” collaboration skills as he teaches the church how to work together for the Lord. Each section helps us overcome a common obstacle to teamwork. Here are seven reasons teams fail, along with Paul’s antidote.

  1. Poor team dynamics (Eph. 4:1-3) — Qualities like humility, patience, gentleness, and bearing with each other create an ideal team player.
  2. No sense of unity (Eph. 4:4-6) — The movie Remember the Titans tells the story of a Virginia High School that integrated black and white students in the 1970s. The coaches and players had to learn to respect each other and discover all they had in common to become one united team. We, too, can look beyond our differences because of all that we share in “one body” with “one hope” and “one Lord” (Eph. 4:4-6).
  3. People in the wrong role (Eph. 4:7) — Christ gives each body member a unique “measure” of grace. If we all use our gifts and the body values what each contributes, we’ll have all the workers we need.
  4. No support or leadership (4:8-12) — Jesus is the perfect leader, and he provides other leaders and functionaries to “equip the saints for the work” (Eph. 4:11-12).
  5. Clarity about the goal (4:12-16) — A team with a divided vision will work against itself rather than together. We need to know our destination, and we do. “building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ … to grow up in every way into him who is the head” (Eph. 4:12-16).
  6. Accountability to each other (4:15) — We build the body by “speaking the truth in love.”
  7. Lack of personal ownership (4:16) — It only works when “each part is working properly — none of us can outsource our role. Christ calls you to use your gift and build his church!

Our leaders have asked each member to consider their abilities and interests and find a place to work in a team.

Our 5 Teams

This church has five teams within which much of our work gets accomplished as we try to live out Christ’s vision for his body. Joining a team allows you to contribute to the church’s mission and provides a platform for personal growth and spiritual development. Our leaders have asked each member to consider their abilities and interests and find a place to work in a team.

• The Family Team ensures that every member is cared for and belongs (Acts 2:42-47; Gal. 6:2). Their goal is strong relationships and open dialogue. The working groups within it are:

  1. The Fellowship Group
  2. The Hospitality Group
  3. The Fellowship Group

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• The Discipling Team ensures that each member receives instruction and training to become more like Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 6:40). Their goal is targeted training to grow each member. Its working groups include:

  1. Kid’s Curriculum Group
  2. Adult Curriculum Group
  3. Young Adult Leadership Group
  4. Young Adult Class Group
  5. Kid’s Teachers
  6. Adult Teachers
  7. Group Studies
  8. Mentors & Mentor Coordination

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• The Outreach Team ensures that the word of the Lord sounds forth from this church and reaches the lost (1 Thes. 1:8; 2 Cor. 4:13-15). Their goal is to equip the church with an evangelism strategy. Its working groups include:

  1. Communications Group
  2. Spring Sing Event Group
  3. EPIC Youth Weekend Group
  4. VBS Event Group
  5. Ladies’ Event Group
  6. Men’s Weekend Group.

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• The Welcome Team ensures that our guests feel at home among us learn of Christ, and want to return (Heb. 13:1-2; Col. 4:5-6). Their goal is a visitor experience that leads members to invite and makes guests want to return. Its working groups include:

  1. Greeter Group
  2. Décor & Signage Group
  3. Visitor Follow-Up Group
  4. Visitor Cards & Database Group

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• The Assembly Team ensures that we are purposeful and thoughtful about all we do when we come together, considering how to stir one another up and honor God (Heb. 10:19-25; John 4:22-24). Their goal is to maximize our time together.

So, where will you contribute to the body of Christ?

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