team - a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport; two or more people working together.
At our first night of worship this semester, we heard teaching on the importance of teams in our lives, a lesson I have struggled to learn these past three years at IUPUI. No Christian is meant to serve God in isolation. As I reflected on my own journey, I considered why it was so hard for me to identify my team. I realized that, until recently, I didn’t know what a team was meant to look like. Fortunately, the founding Christians had to learn this valuable lesson, too.
“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14
After Jesus ascended, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem to pray. They had no idea what lay in store for them, so they did what preparation they could: intense prayer.
When I identify the teams in my life, they are most certainly the groups of people I pray with: my husband, my close friends, and my mentors. I have been blessed to be part of a tight-knit group of Christians for the last three years, and they have prayed me through some of the most challenging moments of college. We frequently message one another offering to pray, and for a semester we met weekly in the halls between classes to pray for our classmates.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1
At the very moment of the coming of the Spirit of God, all of the apostles were together.
To me, this is the most obvious mark of a team. I have a few close friends left from high school, and I still get a lot of joy from keeping up with them. But as much as I enjoy their company, they are not my team. Why?
My team is the group of believers I meet with regularly. I have prioritized my life groups in my weeks. As much as I can, I try and meet with them every week. They have been with me, and I with them, in the most profound moments of God working in our lives. They have seen me laugh, and cry, and fall asleep during conversations. They have been able to tell, without my saying a word, those moments I am struggling inside. These relationships did not appear out of thin air.
By God’s grace, my team has grown together through regular, intentional gathering.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers… And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42, 46-47
The end of Acts 2 gives a beautiful model of a church community - eating together, gathering in homes, worshiping, teaching, learning. What happened when this community gathered? They had favor with non-believers around them, and the Lord increased the number of those saved daily.
In my life, I have seen my team grow and shrink. Some of my friends have graduated, moved away, or transitioned to a new phase in life. Others have brought new Christians into our life group, and they have quickly become as much a team member as those before. Don’t be afraid to let go of those who are leaving. They will soon get the chance to form new teams of Christians and build the body of believers wherever they end up! Don’t be afraid to welcome new people into your team. They may soon become your most trusted friend.
The church as God intended it is a collection of believers who “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). How can you be stirred up if you are alone? More importantly, how can you stir others if you have not chosen to gather, pray, and grow?
A team will not happen by chance. If you look at any sports team with any amount of success you will find at least two common characteristics: first, that they all have the same goal in mind; second, that they all meet regularly to plan and perfect the methods needed to reach this goal. Our goal is laid out by the gospels: to reach everyone in the world with the good news of salvation. We must intentionally devote our time to the lives of those around us to pray, meet, and grow. I pray that you will find a team as you seek God and his goal during your college career.