2 Samuel 11: 26 – 12:13a
26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. 27 When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, 12 1 and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which[a] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Sermon. August 1, 2021
Rev. John Steitz
Today our attention will be on teams. Teams are essential to practicing all of our core values: Spiritually Alive, Neighborhood Engagement, Loving Church Family, and Making Disciples.
Teams are essential to the work of the Church. Jesus, at the very beginning of his ministry forms a core team. Guided by the Holy Spirit a team of Apostles to build the early Church. Very soon, the work of the early Church overwhelms the Apostles. They form a team of Deacons to help them do the work of ministry.
Each of the small Jesus communities that develop throughout the Roman Empire as a result of mission trips of Paul and others are run by small teams. Some of these house churches were only the size of one small team. Some emerge as a local network of several house churches, each made of one or several teams.
Basically then, Jesus forms a core team. Later the Holy Spirit empowers a core team of Apostles – many from Jesus’ core team plus others like Paul – to equip more teams – Deacons, and local house church teams.
The early Church is a network of small teams that together do the work of ministry.
Why do some teams achieve extraordinary results and others do not? What do extraordinary teams have in common? How do we create strong teams more often?
Research points to several key indicators. We are only going to cover two of these key indicators today. Looking at these two indicators is enough to uplift the importance of teams to the early Church, and enough to set the vision for strong teams in our work together.
My hope in this sermon is to begin casting a vision for strong ministry teams. Strong teams that can empower us to practice our four core values.
Today we will focus on “A Compelling Purpose” and “Shared Leadership.” Through the newsletter, in offering a workshop on strong ministry teams, and by bringing these group dynamics into the work of our existing teams and committees will allow us to go deeper.
- A Compelling Purpose.
Strong teams have a compelling purpose that inspires and stretches members to make the group and its work a top priority.
In the early Church this compelling purpose was to share the Good News that through Jesus Christ, God’s reign of shalom – justice and peace – was already breaking forth into the world.
This compelling purpose of the early Church took tangible form through the Jesus communities that gathered together to practice Jesus’ Way of Love. These Jesus communities practiced loving God, loving neighbors and loving one another. They practiced a way of discipleship that modelled, embodied, and shared Jesus’ teaching in their life together.
People who were in the early Church as part of one of these small Jesus community house churches experienced a profound shift in how they saw the world and how they treated one another. Jesus’ Way of Love – loving God, loving neighbor, and loving one another – became central to their lives.
People outside of the early Church noticed the difference. These Christians were peculiar in their practices and stood out by the way they treated one another. Some thought the early Christians were fools.
Yet for many, seeing how those in the Jesus community practiced the compelling purpose of Jesus’ Way of Love was a major factor influencing them to join the early Church. They too wanted to be part of a community where people loved and cared for each other.
Practicing our four core values gives us a compelling purpose. Strong ministry teams help us make these core values a top priority in our lives. Organizing teams around our core values, or aspects of our core values, aligns us with the compelling purpose of the early Church: loving God, loving neighbor, loving one another and sharing Jesus’ teaching by modelling it.
Practicing our core values isn’t about teaching doctrine, it is about the compelling purpose of Jesus’ Way of Love. We model and embody Jesus’ love through our work together in strong ministry teams.
- Shared Leadership.
Shared leadership encourages members to take mutual responsibility for helping the group be successful.
Jesus rejects hierarchy telling the disciples that they need to be servants rather than lord over others like great rulers. The Apostles shared leadership and decision making.
The Apostles included Paul, who was not among the original disciples around Jesus, and who actually persecuted Christians before his conversion. He was accepted and acknowledged as one of the Apostles.
The Apostles shared leadership and ministry responsibilities with the Deacons. Distances between Jesus communities, and available communication technology – letters – meant that each local house church network needed to share leadership in order to survive and thrive.
Shared leadership in the early Church was gender neutral. Women clearly played key leadership roles. Without shared leadership that included women as equal leaders the early Church would not have grown as strongly and as quickly as it did, if at all.
Within the early Church, the limitations on women’s leadership, male dominance, and the creation of a church hierarchy all develop a few generations later.
The first generations of Christians practiced shared leadership in very equalitarian and liberating ways.
Shared leadership is essential to strong, extraordinary teams because this empowers the mutual responsibility that inspires people to bring their whole selves with their unique gifts and expertise to the team and its task.
Leadership in strong teams comes from the whole group. Members lead together: initiating, facilitating, structuring, suggesting, all to move the group toward its shared purpose. Responsibility for outcomes is also shared. The person taking the lead shifts according to the issue at hand and the gifts or expertise required.
Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ through our core values gives us our compelling purpose. Combining this compelling purpose with shared leadership will help us build and sustain strong ministry teams as we practice Jesus’ Way of Love in our time and context.