Article taken from Young Life Front Range Region Area Development Day Handbook
“Among the large number who had become the leaders there was complete agreement of the heart and soul. Not one of them claimed any of his possessions as his own, but everything was common property. The apostles continued to give their witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great force, and a wonderful spirit of generosity pervaded the whole fellowship. Indeed, there was not a single person in need among them.”
Acts 4:32-34 – JB Phillips
For purposes of our prayerful investigation as people in ministry, let us consider a few of the differences between the traditional view of a committee or team and the Biblical concept of the mission community. This should serve as a yardstick for where we are in our respective relationships with any team in our area of responsibility. As we can see by the subsequent picture, the difference is primarily characterised by two ways of thinking. The first one tends to exalt the importance of the task and getting it done at any cost. Efficiency and being self sufficient are some of the traits. The second communicates the importance of maximising the individual, the fellowship and their relationship with Christ as well as to one another … at all cost to the program or organisational tasks. The inherent assumption is that by first being concerned with people, effective program and tasks will be accomplished. [This is not always the case, however, especially when the closeness of relationship does not result in accountability. We must be on our guard for spiritual laziness, which can sometimes develop in mission communities]
Level Of Commitment
Committee / Team: Primarily task orientated. “Let’s get to work and get home”.
Mission Community: “The people of God before we do the work of God”. The task is important but it is superseded by the importance of internationalized fellowship, a sense of community, mutual love, respect and encouragement.
Involvement Of The Whole Person
Committee / Team: People are seen in terms of what they can do for us and the organisation (ie fundraise, PR work, teaching etc.).
Mission Community: The whole person is viewed in the context of his or her involvement. Therefore, family, job, interests, etc. are important in knowing the person and understanding what their gifts and capabilities are and what would most challenge maximise and fulfil them.
Frequency Of Meetings
Committee / Team: A commitment that is limited to “getting the job done”.
Mission Community: Meetings as often as needed so that the group can grow together and effectively carry out the function of ministry within a community. There would be much “intra-group” meetings as two or three members would be gathering together for fellowship and working at the task.
Method Of Assignments
Committee / Team: Delegation. “We need to get this job done. Who will take it?” Many times pressure is applied to coerce people to task regardless of their proficiency or interest. Guilt is frequently a factor involved.
Mission Community: Self-assignment with group feedback. “Is this the best way for this person to grow in Christ and be maximised?” There is a considerable degree of ownership by both the group and the individual involved in the task. When delegation is done, it’s in context to the gifting, interests, talents and heart of the individuals.
Responsibility For Success
Committee / Team: A low sense of responsibility and accountability often represented in a desire to hold others accountable and to make decisions for others to do but not a feeling of mutual accountability within the group itself.
Mission Community: “We are in this together. We stand or fall together. This is our ministry”. There is a high degree of accountability within the group.
Task Assignment And Spiritual Gifts
Committee / Team: The needs of the institution or ministry determine the needs of the program (ie funds must be raised, more people recruited etc.).
Mission Community: The gifts and needs of the members are taken into account. There is a real belief that the real task is not the work but it is the investing into the people, the community. This is done not only by a ministry to the community at large but by considering the needs of the persons within the committee that they might be maximised in their own growth. Assignments will cause people to depend on Christ more and therefore experience him at new levels.
A Sense Of Work
Committee / Team: It is a job to do, a banquet to be “put on” and other responsibilities that would be incumbent upon the group to carry out and keep the ministry going.
Mission Community: The whole is representative of a ministry to Jesus Christ where members primary functions are serving, encouraging and enhancing. Rightly understood a member of a mission community, in any ministry, would see their function as “doing the work”. We would be involved in relational ministry of building, equipping and loving people where they are in an unconditional way.
Committee / Team: Little concern for the Spiritual life and vitality of the people involved. That’s really between them and the Lord … “We’ve got a job to do here”.
Mission community: A deep concern for the spiritual welfare of the individuals involved which supersedes the concern for the task itself, and interest in calling forth gifts and encouraging the ministries of the respective members. The goal would be that people would be enabled for greater ministry so that when they would leave the ministry they would have a stronger relationship with Christ and a deeper understanding of their own gifts and functions in the Body of Christ.
How do we get from a committee / team to a mission community? We must initially evaluate where our committee or teams are in terms of this spectrum; having initially evaluated we must consider some important questions in moving from many of the committee ways of thinking to those of the mission community. This may take a good deal of time to make the transition, but we should carefully consider how we will ask people on the team or committee, what kind of training of new people needs to be done, what kind of relational support is needed to develop a mission community / team and what kind of structures besides meetings should be considered. Such as going away for a weekend together, Bible study or prayer breakfasts, greater involvement in other serving and enriching opportunities.
One final caution ought to be considered. There can be a tendency to identify the task as being “bad” and the relationship as being “good”. There are inherent dangers in each. In the task network the obvious tension of operating entirely on a business level, which would seem impersonal and inconsistent with our ministry is obviously existent. The spiralling focus of the tasks many times can burn out and “use” people. However, the danger of the relationship network is that a group can become inwardly centred to such a degree that we get into sharing and not serving. Many times we see in a committee / team that younger people will tend to be relationally orientated and older ones will generally tend to be task orientated. We need both types very much and both will help the balance of being a growing family of believers as well as a vital giving serving ministering community in the name of Jesus Christ.