What’s Gonna Work?

One of Teen’s favorite preschool TV shows was the Nick Jr show, Wonder Pets. A turtle, a guinea pig, and a duckling, all preschool classroom pets, spent their after hours working together to save animals in trouble. They sang: “What’s gonna work? Teamwork! What’s gonna work? Teamwork!”wonder_pets

That became a silly motivational mantra in our house, especially around activity clean-up time. We would sing, and work together, and get the job done. Though I don’t sing it to my kids anymore (they’re grateful) the jingle runs through my head a little too often.

It’s true, though, right? Teamwork works. Or at least it should. When we work together well, the job gets done better and faster than if we muscle through alone.

My kids play rugby, and one of the things I like about the game is that there is a place on the team for every body. Literally, bodies of all shapes and sizes, so long as they have the desire to play. In middle school, Teen was tall and hefty, a Jolly Green Giant on the pitch; at the other extreme, one of his buddies was Mighty Mouse, small and fast. Teen played the line while Buddy would snatch the ball and run like crazy. The difference in their body types worked to their advantage: they both had a position to play, and play well, benefiting the whole team.rugby

I’ve never played on a sports team, but I’ve been on plenty of teams: volunteer teams, mission teams, school and work project teams. The most successful teams recognize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, positioning each person to the best use of their gifts while someone else shores up their weaknesses. And then those successful teams get out of each other’s way to let each person–and the team as a whole–do their part and shine.

Church ought to be the ultimate team. We’ve all been created and gifted by God. He assembles us in local congregations so that together we can do the work He has planned for us.

Many times it works beautifully–musicians make music, preachers preach, ushers ush, deacons deak, teachers teach, servants serve, etc. All too often, though, instead of dancing together we step on each other’s toes. We think too highly of ourselves and forcefully inform others how to play their positions. Rather than singing along, we insist the musicians are singing the wrong song, or too loudly, or too poorly. Rather than listening well and applying truth, everyone has an opinion on the sermon. Every week.

And then there are those who think they don’t have a gift, or they’re too busy to use it, or they just don’t know what to do so they do nothing. And still others who make themselves (and everyone else) miserable as they force themselves into position A when their gift is truly B or C. The cliche is also true: 20% of the people do 80% of the work while 80% of the people do…what?

The Church may be a broken organization filled with broken people but it is still God’s Church created by God to do God’s work. It’s the best thing we’ve got and it needs us. We need each other. What’s gonna work? Teamwork!

Come & See – Romans 12:1-8

Connect
What’s your favorite team and what do you like about them?

Study
Read Romans 12:1-8.
What does it look like to offer your body as a living sacrifice (v1)?
How can your mind be renewed (v2)?
Explain the connection between body and mind in vv. 1-2. Why are both essential to a life of faith?
Why do you think Paul admonishes believers not to think too highly of ourselves (v3)?
Compare Romans 12:1-8 to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. One emphasizes, “We are one, but different,” while the other emphasizes, “We are different, but one.” Why are both messages important?

Live
Do you know your spiritual gifts? If so, how are you using them?
In what ways is Church like a team? What position do you play?
What good (or bad) examples of teamwork have you participated in or witnessed in the Church?
In our individualistic society, it may be unpopular to say that we “belong” to each other (v5), especially within an organization as complex as church. How would you explain that to someone?
What does this passage communicate about what it means to be Jesus’ disciple?
What is Jesus saying to you through this study, and how will you respond?

Pray
Pray that God will show you how to use your gifts for His Kingdom.
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, take this test to help you find your position on the team.

Better Together

I’ve been thinking about community…

Recently a friend posted about setting “Better Together” goals with her husband. It got me thinking (thanks, Cara!). I’m not much of a goal setter, too generally scatter-brained. But Guy’s more organized along those lines. What if we set goals together and held each other accountable?

During my Inauguration Day media fast, another friend called and said, “Our church is divided because our country is divided. We need to come together to pray for our country.” Her words rang true in my soul. As we chatted, we realized that we stand on opposite sides of the political divide. And we stand together in prayer.

Last night I scrolled through Facebook and saw pictures of friends all across the country peacefully marching in solidarity with one another. The heaviness in my chest lifted some, replaced by hope. I’m not alone.

I didn’t march. Instead we attended our friends’ son’s bar mitzvah. Despite having taken a few years of Hebrew in seminary, I quickly gave up on the transliteration and instead read and prayed along in English. It was a beautiful service, fascinating and moving and so different and like what we do at church on Sundays.bar-mitzvah-1

Two things especially struck me throughout the day. First, we all ought to speak heartfelt words of blessing, over our children and to one another. How different might our families, our communities, our world be if we noticed and spoke into the best parts, the uniqueness, of the people in our lives? And secondly, I am so grateful for my friends!

As we celebrated the rite of passage that welcomed this boy into Jewish manhood, we talked. We laughed. We danced and ate and drank. But because we also do life together, we asked hard questions. We whispered prayer and rubbed salve on the aches we know our friends carry. We rejoiced together all the more because we have also suffered together.bar-mitzvah-2

Before it started raining this afternoon, Guy and I took the dogs for a quick walk. He remarked, “I really like our neighborhood!” I agree. I like our street, our section of town, this geographic community we call home. And I like our neighbors and friends, the community that fills our hearts. I think we’re better for engaging in life in this place, at this time. I hope others would say the same about us.

So tonight, despite the dumping rain, despite my introverted self running on full-weekend extrovert overload, I will drag myself out of my cozy cocoon to gather with other friends, our church Community Group. We will talk and laugh and discuss and pray. Because I need them in my life. We’re better together.

Come & See
Week 3 – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Connect
Which part of your body do you think is most important? Which would be hardest to live without?

Study
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
Notice who has responsibility for assembling the body parts (vv. 13, 18, 24, 27). How does that knowledge reorient our perspective?
Rephrase the statements in vv. 15-16 as someone might actually say them. How would you respond?
Sadly, how do we communicate “I don’t need you!” to certain members of the body? How can we change our attitudes and actions?
How would you explain to someone who hadn’t read this passage why we need each other?

Live
What are some of the Church’s favorite body parts? How do we demonstrate that?
How would you describe your place in the body? Have you ever wanted to be a different body part? What and why?
There should be no division in the body, but we can all point to examples. How should we address division when we see it?
How do we practically suffer and rejoice with one another?
How can we strengthen our connection to the body?
What does this passage communicate about what it means to be Jesus’ disciple?
What is Jesus saying to you through this study, and how will you respond?

Pray
Pray for stronger connections with other members of the body.

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