Christianity is struggling in Chicago. Evangelicalism has spent thousands of dollars on advertising, church planting, and evangelistic outreach with disappointing results. Although the gospel is powerful, I wonder if we are hindered by our method. Christianity continues to approach Chicago as it has always done with church planters and missionaries working as “Lone Rangers,” even though we have the example of Jesus building and ministering from a team. Training His men, Jesus used fishing as a picture for making disciples. We envision a lone person with a rod and reel, while in the first century, fishing was a group effort netting multiple fish. It was no accident that Jesus wanted fishermen on His team.
The Holy Spirit gives each person an ability that works in harmony with the other team members. In our own community Jeremy is the energy behind us serving one another. Ryan and Abbie remind us of the lost people around us while Dan keeps us authentic. Prayer is Maureen’s passion, Randall leads us to give, Leah keeps us in the word, and Rachel has a hug for everyone. It is living in community that we have learned how to work together and how to love a variety of personalities. Unity is a choice that requires humility and hard work to keep a sure grip on the net.
The basis for this team approach is found in the nature of God. God is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They exist in harmony, and out of their relationship flows an infinite love to the world through the cross of Jesus. A discipling team is a picture of God to the world by their love for one another as John describes in 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” The team embodies our message.
Our mission is no more difficult than the Roman world of Jesus. As He faced the challenge by forming a team, so we also should form teams believing that our unity is the point of engagement with our culture. Our unity is how Chicago will be convinced that the Father has sent Jesus into the world. “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).