Thursday, October 06, 2005

Missing Out on the Power of Team?

For the most part my work is details and execution, much of it alone from my home office. Sometimes though, I get to see how powerful it can be when people on a team pull together. How creative energies can be tapped into, how perspectives can blend with each other, how the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Man is at his best when he is on a team and the team is at its best when all are pulling for a higher, common goal.

At the risk of sounding like the business management book du jour, this is all really true. And it works. And it’s got me wondering why the church isn’t more effective that way. After all, not only do we have access to the same dynamic that all human teams can have—it’s just the way God designed it, and non-believers do a great job of tapping into it—but we have the Spirit as well. To borrow a phrase from our secular neighbors, we should be kicking ass.

Instead, we have church.

This isn’t to say that church is flaccid and useless. Obviously it isn’t. But church has become 90% of what we do spiritually. All of our tithe is supposed to go into it, and frankly, it’s pretty much expected that all of our Christian effort will go into it too. Our new pastor announced in his first sermon to us, “I believe in Sunday service! I believe in Sunday night service! I believe in Wednesday night service!” I ran the time in my head: including driving, that’s about nine hours a week for me right there. Add in my board and leadership team commitments, and that comes to about 50 hours a month. In other words, more than a full work week worth of commitment. I think that more than qualifies as “not forsaking the fellowship of the believers.”

Fact is, very little of those 50 hours are spent building teams and acting like teams. 40 of them are spent in service or driving back and forth to service. And a full ten hours of those 40 are spent sitting down listening to sermons. Five hours are spent in worship, which arguably is a team effort. Worship serves God and ourselves, but it doesn’t serve those outside the church.

Fact is, not one of those 50 hours that I would be called upon to devote would be serving the outside world. All of it is inward focused, and very little of it is spent in actual teamwork—just the time I would spend in Board and leadership meetings. And pretty much all of that time is spent focusing on church matters that don’t involve the outside world.

I’m sure there’s reasons that church life has evolved this way. I’m not sure what they are, but when I look at it like this it doesn’t seem balanced and effective. It neglects real team efforts—diverse people uniting to take action towards a common higher goal—in favor of diverse people uniting to hear somebody else talk about taking action towards a common higher goal.

Mrs. Zeke and I don’t really see church as our primary avenue for service to God and our neighbor. There are lots of other avenues for that, some of which I’ve mentioned briefly in other posts. In my mind, church should be where we tap into the power of team and add the Spirit to make a potent brew for serving this world that our God created and that Jesus died for. That we spend so little time doing that really troubles me.


At 9:37 AM, Blogger eddieO said...

i've always believed that i could do a lot by myself, but as a team.... mountains can be moved.

if i ever thought there was a point and purpose to "church", being a part of a team to serve others would be that reason. too bad no such place like that exists.


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