Philippians 2:1-2 provides a worthy goal for any ministry team:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
These verses remind us that it isn’t just about the task we have to complete as a team but the relationships we have with one another.
- How do we treat one another?
- How do we handle disagreements?
Fellowship in Ministry Teams Comes from our Common Ground
Working on the same goal, or purpose, doesn’t make us one. As the above verses suggest, we’re to be one in spirit as well as purpose. So, even when we disagree, we can still be encouraged. Even when our idea is set aside, we can be comforted. How is that possible? We find our common ground in the Lord, united with Christ. We protect our commonality by exercising His love. We have fellowship with one another because we’re in fellowship with the Spirit. With all of that in place, we can experience unity out of diversity — being one in spirit and purpose.
If we try to find common ground in our own opinions or ideas, our diversity could get in the way. Rather, together, as a team, we seek God’s wisdom, His solution. We make getting on page with God more important than pushing our personal agendas.
Fellowship in Ministry Teams Requires Functioning out of our Common Grace
So much can go wrong when a group of people with different personalities, learning styles, backgrounds, and opinions try to work together. If we’re going to be like-minded and of one spirit and purpose, we must find fellowship with one another in the Lord and the grace He extends.
If we rely on the goodness of people in order to work well together, our diversity will get us in trouble. To overlook each other’s idiosyncrasies and work through conflict, we need to fall back on God’s love and forgiveness, His grace. When we do, we’ll find the tenderness and compassion to work with people we might not normally be drawn toward as friends.
Encourage Fellowship When Ministry Teams Meet
If fellowship must be rooted in the common ground and common grace that can only be found in what we all share in our Lord, then our meetings need to include time to focus on Him, not just the task at hand.
- Do we take time to pray together?
- Do we use God’s Word as our filter for making decisions?
- Do we point each other to His character and ways as the grid through we function?
One way we can do that is to have a short devotional time together. You could keep it casual by having team members share something God taught them from His Word since you last met. Or, members could take turns coming prepared to lead this time with Scripture they believe would be encouraging or relevant to the task at hand. You might work through a study together but must remember not to get so caught up in it that you become a Bible study group rather than a ministry team with a mission to accomplish.
The Ministry Worker’s Devotional: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God could be a tool to use with a ministry team that centers on the very character and nature of God as the resources we need for effective ministry.
Whether we use devotionals or not in our meetings, the basis for our fellowship must consistently and regularly be remembered and reinforced. That could be done through spontaneous moments of prayer, especially when we find ourselves at an impasse. It could happen by purposefully asking the right kinds of questions as we flow through our agenda, ones that challenge us to consider if what we’re planning and doing lines up with God and His Word.