Why Community-Loving Teams Help Us Evangelise

handsAs I’ve mentioned before, one of my favourite books about leadership is Bill Hybels’ Courageous Leadership. I am reading it again and am struck by the emphasis he places, towards the start of the book, on strong teams. He emphasises that effective teams within the Church don’t just work together – they “do life together”. Now, stop with all that British grimacing at such shudder-provoking Americanisms… There is something in this! Stay with me…

Hybels writes about Billy Graham, the famous American evangelist. Throughout his ministry, Graham was supported by a tight-knit team – so tight, that towards the end of their lives, they settled in houses near each other, just so they could continue being together.

To me, this makes total sense. The absolute most fun we can have in our lives is when we are using our charisms to the max, in the context of a team of people we love and who give us life. Some of my best experiences of this have been on the team with Youth 2000, organising evangelisation retreats, and on the team in my old parish in Balham. When you not only love what you do, but you love the people you’re with… nothing is greater. Yes, you feel fulfilled, but more importantly, you’re more effective. The love you have for God and for one another is contagious and outward-looking, seeking to draw others in. Your passions bounce off each other, your different creativities feed each other.

It is a unique and privileged experience, and if you are part of a team like this – treasure it, because it’s uncommon.

There are many different expressions of this, but one of them is United Pursuit, a band that describes itself as “a bunch of best friends, with our eyes fixed on Jesus”. I think what they say on their blog expresses it well:

Last night, we held our first worship night in our new home, the Fifth Ave House. It was a surreal, emotionally charged night, feeling the promises of the Lord come to pass and momentum of our community expressed physically in one space. It took every single person to make it happen. … This is where the collective boldness explodes…when the challenge of ahead of you is too great for one or a few people. When it takes an army. … Don’t miss the joy of a community pursuit when Jesus is the center. It’s what makes the journey worth it. The Fifth Ave House is just a building, with 4 walls and (leaky) roof. It has no heart, no soul in of its self. But when it’s filled to the brim with people alive and free, a collective boldness arises to be witnesses of Jesus. This is something worth fighting for.

Hybels writes of his sadness that many have not experienced the richness of this. We are frequently working in teams with people we are happy to see once a week, happy to work amicably alongside each other and share in small talk, but who we would never dream of living life more deeply with.

How sad to miss the future shared moment when team members look back with amazement and someone says, “Do you remember when God broke through? Do you remember when that idea was born? Can you believe all that happened since then? Can you believe that we got to do this together?

He describes a time at the end of a conference when his team were flat-out exhausted. They huddled together in prayer, silent and adoring of all God had done.

When we lifted our heads and looked at each other, it was obvious we were all thinking the same thing: “This is as good as it gets – being powerfully used by God – together.”

Why not reflect on the teams we are a part of? How can we enrich the community at the heart of the team? How can we know and love each other more deeply, at the same time as deepening our knowledge and love for the Lord? How will this deeper community help us reach out to seek the lost?

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