JANET LAROCQUE | GUEST
When you think of leadership in the church, how often do you think of team-based leadership? We often think of leadership as an individual exercise. Perhaps someone who is specially trained in leadership who runs and manages everything. Or maybe someone who is the go-getter, who gets everything done. But team-based ministry is how God created us to serve the Body of Christ. In working as a team, we not only accomplish what God has called us to, but He shapes us in the process.
Teams Are My Testimony
I love team-based ministry. Currently, I serve on the PCA’s National Women’s Ministry Team as Regional Advisor to the churches in mid-America. In my local church, I serve on our women’s ministry Servant Team in the area of Titus 2 discipleship. But let me back up to explain how I got here.
I grew up in a liturgical, works-based denomination, fully believing I was a Christian because I had checked all the boxes. There is a beautiful story about that for another day, but around my 40th birthday the Lord decided it was time. He placed a number of people in my path and a greater number of questions in my mind. That all led me to my very first Bible study at Naperville PCA, taught by Karen Hodge, and I’ve never left.
As a “made-new believer” in my 40’s I was hungry to know the Lord, devouring theology. Thankfully, the preaching and shepherding I received was solid, well-communicated, and true-to-the-Scriptures. But in my mind, I was making up for lost time and this gnostic quest to know Jesus became kind of a solo-act. At that time, my team was often just Jesus and me—the vertical without the horizontal. Enter God’s grace again, and He began moving me toward less “doing” and more “watching.”
So I watched—how women at my church served together on teams—quite joyfully. And I watched—Care Teams, Prayer Teams, small group co-leader teams, teaching teams, and the women’s ministry Servant Team. Then zooming out I watched my pastor and his wife serving together, modeling what a team looks like. Next, I watched our session, a plurality of elders, leading our church—all serving together.
All these teams reflect the Godhead—the ultimate team of three persons in one being, eternally serving and pouring into each other. And the best part is, we are invited into that union! As Jesus prayed in John 17: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (vv.22-23).
First, a visual: My children all played sports which means our family spent a lot of time in the car over the years. My husband calls it “windshield time.” On the way to practices and games, and on the way home when perhaps the result was not what was desired, we had the opportunity to do life together. That’s how I view being in ministry with other women in serving the Lord—we get a lot of life out of doing life together and we get to share His blessings in the journey.
Second, and I only just realized this, being on a team has now become very natural to me. When I thought about how I want to explain the need for team-based ministry, what did I do? I went straight to my teammates, both current and former. It was second nature to do so. Here are some of the things they shared with me about team-based ministry:
- “Being on a team in ministry means honesty with myself and with others.”
- “My areas, where growth is needed, are supported by her strengths.”
- “There is built-in Christian counsel, support, encouragement, and discipleship.”
- “It is life-giving to serve on a team with fellow sisters because you all have the same purpose and that is to glorify the Lord in word and deed.”
And the response that hits home most for me:
- “I love that the team approach keeps us from ourselves.”
Thirdly, and yes, it’s the Sunday School answer: Jesus.
God created each of us exactly as He intended, and we all bring different gifts to a team. But while teaming together, we get to experience Jesus in new ways. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (v.12, 17-20).
- One of my teammates experiences/communes with Jesus best in nature. (I see weeds and she shows me God).
- One teammate sees Jesus in all of Scripture. She stewards that well and I learn so much from her teaching.
- One teammate sees Jesus when interacting with children, and another in discipling.
- One teammate is highly compassionate and empathetic. Sees Jesus as she meets the eyes of other image-bearing souls.
- One teammate best experiences Jesus through the corridor of prayer.
- One teammate sees Jesus in worship (corporate singing, hymns, and doxology).
Team-based ministry not only places us together to serve and point to Jesus, but by being teammates, we get to experience Jesus more fully through each other.
Do you serve in ministry? Look at the teammates God placed in your midst. Rejoice at the many ways God shapes you through the other members of the church body.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash