A small team of 12 changed the world

Not a one-man show

In any  culture, coaches know the importance of team. From a small public school to the NFL, coaches comprehend the power of building a team. Teamwork brings together the best of everyone enabling a common man to do uncommon things. Coaches have  special insight that seems foreign to some leaders, including charitable organizations such as ministries and churches. A coach recognizes that his success is based not on his physical prowess and genius  but on his ability to create a dynamic team of people who believe in each other. It’s not about him — he understands that it is not a one-man show.

But HE can conquer the world

I cannot think of anyone who can conquer the world by Himself other than Jesus. (He is literally out of this world!) He was born of a virgin,  turned the water into wine, and not only  healed people, but  raised people from the dead. (He raised from the dead Himself!) He commanded a storm to stop and it listened to Him. He fed thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  He  forgives sin, thousands upon thousand of angels worship Him.

The BIG question is IF He can do everything Himself, WHY would He build a team?

And as great as He is, it’s puzzling  WHY  He would recruit such a motley group. By the world’s standard, He would be deemed a lousy general manager. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees,  we would ridicule Him if He showed up with such a disparate team of people. We would call Him crazy and out of His mind just as His own relatives did on at least  one occasion. 


fullsizerender-31This past 2 weeks I enjoyed a longer vacation with my wife. It just happens that this is also the busiest time of the month for our ministry. Several weeks before we left, I felt anxious about being absent during this busy time. The main focus of our ministry, however, is discipleship and training, and so I had to model what I teach — that the mission continues even without the presence of the leader. That’s exactly what happened while I was gone.

A team of capably trained volunteers

img_4123The FHL team executed the ministry with excellence, even implementing new things without me. They created forms, updated procedures and strengthened the team bond. Similar to the early disciples, they relied on each other in the midst of challenges. They proved that FHL is not a one-man or a one-woman show, but a team of capably trained volunteers. 

Creating missional community

img_4122This is what our ministry is all about. We emphasize the importance of training  leaders who can then train their volunteers, who in turn  influence others through their words and actions. We are now seeing the fruit of our labor in a small community in Indianapolis (zip code 46208) through working with food ministries and other charitable community organizations. There is more training going in the area and we are continually uncovering the deeper needs of people. As we continue to define the broader role of food pantries and soup kitchens, we are able to connect those in need with other available resources beyond  receiving a bag of food. We are creating a missional community.

The challenge

S0 the next question is, since teamwork is vital to the success of ministry, WHY is discipleship  (training) not at the top of the list for many ministries and churches? We teach about it, but I have found and surveys have shown that a large percentage of professed Christians are not able to share the Good News with others. In fact, many  feel that it is the job of the pastor and leadership to  explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. I often hear from many leaders that only a small percentage of their congregation do the work of the church or the ministry. Although there may not be a single answer to resolve this chronic problem, I think more time and effort  needs to be expended  training and discipling people so that there will be spiritual reproduction.

In my more than ten years of experience, I have seen food pantries that were unable to serve others without the leader and soon had to close their doors because there were no succession plans. Even worse, I have seen a ministry put on hold because the pastor was not present during the service days, and volunteers, though they had compassionate hearts, were not equipped to make simple decisions to attain the goal of the ministry.

Breaking the mold

Jesus modeled discipleship for us. He knew He had 3 years to teach His uneducated and poor trainees and He stuck with it. He taught them in words and in action, specifically coaching them in how to make disciples. He tutored them one on one and He trained them as a team. He showed them that they couldn’t do it alone. He not only proclaimed the Kingdom of God but  demonstrated it. He endowed them with the Holy Spirit who would work with them to conquer the world for Christ. Jesus modeled the power of building a team. He is the greatest coach ever to walk on earth.

A solution that could change the world

This small team of 12, this motley group conquered the world. In the Old Testament Zechariah said in Zechariah 4:10, “Who dares despise the day of small things…” And then Jesus reminded His early disciples in the New Testament, “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’” One city after another, the disciples conquered the world. In our current culture, it might be one zip code after another. Discipleship is the Great Commission, and if effort is put forth there, the world could be won for the Kingdom through common people doing uncommon things together. Your team could change the world… in your own neighborhood!

One Reply to “A small team of 12 changed the world”

  1. This is good Merlin! Yes at the last FHL missional food pantry we had pastors/ leaders watching the prayer teams minister as several new and re-dedications took place. Then to further the Kingdom as the structure had already been built one client is ready to have Bible studies at her home with others waiting for us there and we had another couple asking for bible studies plus more. I was just reading this morning in the message Bible about the ” Harvest hands” in Matt. 9 and 10. Jesus modeled to us bringing the Kingdom of God to the towns and cities and he prayed ” asking for more “harvest hands”. The disciples were not only sent out but were empowered, instructed how to do it , not to worry about their lives but to cast their cares and needs on to God to bring life to the harvest fields as modeled by Jesus. Matt 9: As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!” He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw. “Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
    Matthew 9:27‭-‬31‭, ‬35‭-‬38 MSG

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