The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
Our hope as we make disciples is to bring people face-to-face with Jesus. But it’s also to invite people into a missional community—a group of people, living together with the same purpose.
There’s nothing more bonding than being on mission together. You’ve probably felt that. Think back over the work crews and summer staffs you’ve been on. The Young Life teams. The mission trips. You tend to get close with the people you’re on mission with.
But part of being in community is learning to love one another even when things aren’t all hunky-dory. Sometimes team relationships can make us want to just do ministry by ourselves. Remember those group projects in middle and high school? You always had the one person who never carried their weight and you likely just wished it could be an individual project instead of a group one.
But Christ modeled for us the importance of doing ministry in community. He modeled this with the disciples and by sending them out in pairs. We also see it modeled in the way the Trinity functions, with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working together in perfect harmony.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 about the importance of the different parts that make up the body. As we do ministry together, it’s vital that we all have different gifts and abilities. Often, the best Young Life teams are made up of people who wouldn’t normally be friends apart from Christ. Affinity-driven friendships easily become inward-focused. Friendships that happen as a result of the gospel more naturally remain on mission.
When we love one another like this, it’s a megaphone for the gospel. Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35).
When we actually see ministry teams functioning like this, it’s one of the most beautiful gospel pictures we’ll ever witness. And when you see it, you’ll long to be a part of it.
This semester we’re going to take a deep dive into Young Life team dynamics and understanding how we can move closer together in these missional communities.
To get you started, here are some questions you can kick around with your Young Life team this week at leadership.
Questions For Your Young Life Team
- How do we feel about our team dynamics?
- Do we love one another well?
- Do we pray for one another consistently?
- When have you watched a teammate demonstrate Jesus’s love to one of his or her middle- or high-school friends?
- If our team could improve on one aspect of ministry, what would it be?
- What’s one thing you would like to improve in your personal ministry?
- What is one thing we can be accountable for to help you grow personally and in your ministry? How can we as a team support you?
- Who are potential leaders you can be praying for who might join our team?
If a team leader or staff member is leading this time, they can ask:
- What is something I as a team leader am doing well?
- What is something I as a team leader can improve?
You can end your time by praying this prayer together:
A Prayer for Unity (adapted from EveryMomentHoly.com)
We are gathered here because we believe that we are called together into a work we cannot yet know the fullness of.
And so we offer to you, O God, these things: Our dreams, our plans, our vision.
Shape them as you will. Our moments and our gifts. May they now be invested toward bright, eternal ends.
Richly bless the work before us, Father, giving grace lest we grow enamored by our own accomplishment or entrenched in old habit.
Instead, let us be ever listening for your voice, ever open to the quiet beckoning of your Spirit in this endeavor.
You alone, O God, by your gracious and life-giving Spirit, have power to knit our imperfect hearts, our weaknesses, our strengths, our stories, and our gifts, one to the other.
Unite your people and multiply our meager offerings, O Lord, that all might resound to your glory.
May our love and our labors now echo your love and your labors, O Lord.
Let all that we do here, in these our brief lives, in this our brief moment to love, in this, the work you have ordained for this community, flower in winsome and beautiful foretaste of still greater glories yet to come.
O Spirit of God, now shape our hearts.
O Spirit of God, now guide our hands.
O Spirit of God, now build your kingdom among us. Amen.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”
Written by Drew Hill.
Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, NC and also on staff with Young Life in the Global Innovation and Training department. Drew started the Young Life Leader Blog in 2010 and has written an award-winning book for Young Life leaders called “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.“