When Jesus sent His disciples out to do His work, He sent them two by two. I think there are a number of reasons for this, and it informs how the church often struggles in our work. Here are just a few ways in which working as a team is better than working alone:
1 – When we are in partnership, we can keep each other honest.
2 – Doing ministry alone can get frustrating – working with someone else adds a level of support that is missing in solo work.
3 – Nobody can do everything well, no matter how hard we try. We all have gifts – but nobody can do all that needs to be done well.
It is this third aspect I want to consider today – the fact that none of us can do everything well, but people often expect us to be able to. This pandemic has reminded me consistently that I really don’t like talking on the phone. For me, it is a tool to express the facts and move on. I was never one of those teenagers whose parents had to pry the family telephone away – I rarely used it. Now I am faced with texting, which I do, but very tersely. I don’t think about picking up the phone and calling someone unless something serious happens – I’m just not wired that way.
And yet, the phone has been especially essential during this pandemic when face-to-face meetings have been relegated to Zoom and looking through windows. There have been many times when I meant to call someone and by 9 pm, I would realize I did not. I have had to admit that I will never be good at this aspect of ministry, and I truly regret not having done this. I do know a lot of people who would be on the phone all day checking in on others, and if I had one of those thoughtful people in partnership with me, our work together would have been so much better.
This is why we are better together – like the Apostle Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts and being the body of Christ, we complement each other in our ministry. I often say that my best ideas are not usually all that great until a group gets hold of them and makes them so much better. It doesn’t matter what we do – when we do it together, as a community of faith, it gets better. I think this may be why Jesus told His disciples that where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is there. I don’t think it means He isn’t present in our private prayer or good works – He tells us that too. I think He might mean that we are the Church when we are together, in body or in spirit.
Thank you for your grace during those times I didn’t do things well enough, and thank you for your work that more than made up for what I couldn’t do. You and I together are the Church, and we have been deployed in a different way for the last 14 months. May this time apart be a way of learning how to be together in better ways. It is a chance to re-boot – let’s not lose this remarkable opportunity.
Prayer – We are so grateful, Holy God, that You have kept us connected. May our work be done in Your name, together or apart, for the good of others. Amen.
Today’s image is one of those really cool word clouds – about community.