• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Team, Interdependence, Community, or …

This past weekend, I spent some time reflecting further on the comment I made at the end of my last post: “Living out of weakness … would at the very least call us to lay aside our self centered desires in order to work in community with others.”  We used to describe this idea of community by talking about “teams” and the importance of being on a team where we could learn, share, pray and work together.  However, we discovered over the years that working on a team was something other than just being in close geographical proximity to one another.  The concept of “team” then morphed into our value of interdependence as we wanted to underscore the broader implications of “team” in terms of its participants and its process.  I then entered another word into the discussion, “community” as I have sought to give voice to the idea that relationships with one another should in many ways reflect the community that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that is, that community places team and interdependence back in its biblical context. 

Yet, here’s my dilemma.  For all our efforts to re-define our value of team through interdependence and community, it feels like we are less connected with one another than before.  Many are doing good ministry work, but few are those who have others in their “community” who regularly review with them their ministry and life priorities or who ask the hard questions that we need to be asked.  Noah H. put it well in replying to my most recent post when he wrote: “We need others to communicate with us when we appear to be grasping for privilege and power at the expense of our brothers and sisters.  We need each other to foster this “weakness strength”.”  We need others to speak into our lives, to graciously question what we are doing with our time and our energies.  Let’s pursue real community, not pseudo community.

6 Responses

  1. Well said. And I’ll add an additional thought: in order to speak into each other’s lives, we need to spend time with each other. We often neglect this because we are so busy with “ministry” and administrative tasks. I’m challenged to create meaningful time with teammates in the midst of full days and weeks. This “time” needs to include socializing according to how people connect, which often comes in a form different from my comfort level.

  2. While I’ve seen the process you describe – finding out what ‘team’ can be (in our case, where proximity wasn’t always possible!), I disagree that we are less connected than before, at least regarding the Cameroon South field. We’ve invested a lot of time in creating that connectedness. (And certainly the huge leap in communication technology over the last 15 years hasn’t hurt either!).

    I wonder if it all boils down to ‘we just want more”? We’ve come a long way in our sense of ‘team’, but relationship and connectedness is a moving target –and now we want more, what you’ve described as ‘community’.

    • Good insight, Mike. I was not trying to say that “all is lost” in terms of connectedness. I wrote that it “feels” like we are more disconnected. It’s a question that I have had on my heart, and you have begun to answer that question well from your perspective. My hope is that we would consider, as you put it in your note, what more might be involved. And whether what we call “connectedness” really includes that review and tough questions that we need.

    • Yes, we want more. And if we don’t, we’ll stop growing. I agree that Cameroon South has come a LONG way, but we need to intentionally keep at it or it’ll fall by the wayside. Distance, busyness, & growing comfortable with where we’re at are all against us continuing to grow unless we keep it a priority.

      I love Ephesians 4: 15-16 in regards to community and keeping connected in a way that makes us grow (including “tough questions”. v15-16: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. ”

      Right now, my back hurts and I’m realizing just how connected it is to the rest of my body. When part of our team hurts, do we even realize it? Or when one part of our team isn’t working effectively, are we willing to do the “exercises” to get everything functioning in a healthy way again? Or do we have to hear prayer requests from afar or depend on reports from others? How connected are we really? It’s a big improvement for our field from before, but we can’t slack off either.

  3. Is teamwork a value or a tool?

    Interdependence is a value. It seems to me that teamwork is a means, in most situations an extremely important means, of achieving our vision and mission. If this is true, teamwork is a tool or means that is an outgrowth of our value of interdependence in Christ’s body.

    I may be wrong but it seems to me that confusing values with means in our conceptual framework leads to some dangers. For example, values, if valid, are fixed and applicable across cultures; means are very flexible and are selected and limited in light of our mission, vision, values, and the specific cultural context. When a means is made a value it often leads to legalism in methodology, which leads in turn to stifling innovation.

    Interdependence is a value that underlines the importance of connectedness we should experience in community. that will often work itself out in purposeful teamwork.

    • Great comment, Ed. This is what I was trying to highlight. The value is interdependence, but the question we need to ask ourselves often is how is that value to be expressed, how does it work itself out in our lives in community.

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