We work together better as a ‘Team of Teams’

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Was it just the churches where I served as pastor or is it the case in most churches that getting the music ministry and the children’s ministry on the same page can be a struggle?

Was it only in my churches that the Sunday School director and the youth ministry leaders, at times, seemed to have uniquely different and conflicting views of Sunday School in the youth department?

Maybe I was the only pastor who dealt with this, but it seemed that the deacons and personnel committee didn’t always see eye to eye on church staffing issues and the women’s ministry and the WMU could, at times, be on a different page.

And yet, everyone was a member of the same church and working toward the same ultimate goal of sharing the gospel with the lost in our community.

In Philippians 1:27, Paul writes, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Paul strongly desires for the members of the church to work together.

In John 17, Jesus prays for his church, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus’ prayer shows us that the unity of the church is a testimony to the world of his identity as the Messiah and to the truth of the gospel.

I recently read the book Team of Teams. The lead author, Stanley McChrystal, is a retired four-star general whose last assignment was as the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal writes about how the deadliest, best trained, and most well-equipped fighting force in the history of war was struggling to defeat a group of poorly trained and scarcely resourced insurgents known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Each branch of the U.S. military had highly-specialized and tremendously effective teams, but each of those teams functioned in its own strict command and control system. Those systems left them too siloed and too slow to react in the complex environment of urban warfare, terror cells, and the enemy’s ability to instantly communicate across a vast grid of online networks.

Here is McChrystal’s assessment of the situation:

“On its own, each team exhibited horizontal bonds of trust and a common sense of purpose … meaningful relationships between teams were nonexistent … to each unit, the piece of the war that really mattered was the piece inside their box on the org chart; they were fighting their own fights in their own silos.”

What it took for the U.S. military to succeed against Al Qaeda in Iraq was a transformation of those independent teams into what McChrystal calls a “Team of teams,” where everyone kept the mission first and committed to work together to accomplish it.

That struck a chord with me as I thought about our work in churches and our work at KBC. The local church with her various ministries and the churches of Kentucky, all working together, are an amazing Team of Teams. We are seeking to accomplish the ultimate mission of sharing the gospel with a lost and dying world. Kentucky Baptists, as we continue to work hard to work together, I am confident God will continue to use us to see that the mission is accomplished!

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