We cannot accomplish the mandate to reach the nations, our cities or our neighborhoods alone. Jesus would not do it alone. In his book Aqua Church, Leonard Sweet writes, "Jesus spent his earthly ministry not growing a mega-following or even building local communities but rather building a handful of disciples into a great team that could create a culture of community bound together in love."
Jesus modeled teamwork. His mission first of all was to establish a team, the twelve. He spent His earthly ministry building a handful of men into a great team that created a culture of Kingdom and love. He sent out his disciples always in teams. He made healing a team affair and involved those who were about to be healed in their own healing. Jesus so identified with community that he said, "When they accept you, they accept me." What is more, "if you embrace the least of these, you embrace me." We as individuals belong to Christ and are a part of His body.
Jesus’ priority was in team building and his goal was the creation of a missional team. The twelve would implement his vision and multiply his influence through communities to the Nations.
In John 1:29-51, we see the first 5 team members in the beginnings of acquaintance and faith in Jesus. In the very infancy of Jesus ministry, he begins to draw men together that will ultimately form His team.
He didn't concentrate on gathering crowds but first sought men who would comprise His leadership team. In fact, He seemed to want to avoid them. His teaching and interaction was with this team.
Initially the first team members had been drawn to John the Baptist and had become his disciples. They were attracted to Jesus on the basis of what John had said about Him. These first team members actually introduce themselves to Jesus. They were looking for real righteousness and were sick of the religious tradition. They questioned the religion of works and religious superstition and instead wanted something real and true. In this first stage of their leadership development, they are simply believers in Jesus and occasional companions who were attracted to Him.
The second stage of their fellowship with Jesus became more of uninterrupted lifestyle. They habitually abandoned secular occupations.
In their third stage of development as leaders, they were chosen by Jesus from the mass of followers and formed into a select team to be trained for apostleship.
The strategy of Jesus was to gather them and develop friendship or community. He, within the context of loving relationship would teach and demonstrate the culture and mission of God’s Kingdom as He prepared them to carry on His vision through His community (the Church) into the entire world.
Jesus gave Himself to this team
He cultivated His relationship with them. He accepted them where they were with a vision of what they would become. His strategy wasn't to gain adherents but to gain a team of friends who became formed into community and focused on mission.
Jesus would invest in His team and command them to do likewise by following His example. He modeled what He wanted to multiply:
- Jesus demonstrated and expressed faith in His teams’ ability.
- Jesus expressed love and care for the team.
- Jesus looked beyond their weakness to the potential within them.
- Jesus imparted a focus into purpose and mission.
- Jesus provided opportunities for them to grow.
- Jesus developed a relationship with them and saw them as friends.
- Jesus provided a secure environment for them to take risk.
- Jesus provided the tools they needed.
- Jesus gave them His time.
- Jesus led them with vision.
What kind of team are you a part of in the life and mission God is building in your local church? Christ continues His mission through His gathered community and He does so through teamwork.