Team Growth

The saying you often hear in hockey locker rooms is “The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back of the jersey.” Translation: What is best for the team always trumps what is best for the individual.

As I read the New Testament, I get the sense that the same principle applies to the relationship between the church’s progress and the progress of the individual Christian. Personal progress is certainly important and necessary, but I would contest that the Scriptural emphasis is on the group. Yes, the team—that is, the church, is the grand priority of the New Testament.

Accordingly, the apostle Paul gives some helpful counsel to direct our interaction with one another, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). The word which comes to my mind here is MERCY. And in the context of this passage I would define mercy as the gentle, patient, response to unmet expectations.

What the Christian Church is being called to is hugely counter-cultural. Businesses seeking to make a profit can’t always afford to show mercy to an underperforming employee. Sports teams seeking to win a championship can’t always afford to put error-prone players onto the field/court/ice. But, the church……The Church is said to GROW when we persist in showing mercy to one another. Paul goes on, “Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:2).

This is my dream for the Church. My dream is for the Church to become known as a place where others are put first in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else.

To accomplish this, to create and to preserve an irresistible environment, every follower of Jesus within a particular gathering will need to be engaged. In other words, the entire team must be working towards the same goal.

Herb Brooks was the coach of the 1980 U.S. olympic hockey team which won gold in Lake Placid. When Brooks was in the process of selecting his team, he would would often say to his staff, “I’m not looking for the best players. I’m looking for the right players.” For Brooks, the “right player” was one who cared more about team performance than individual accomplishments.

As I survey the New Testament, I see a similar approach to follow. The Church does not grow on the back of a couple of spiritual superstars. The Church grows and matures when the focus remains on the group

Last Sunday, at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I gave a message from Romans 15 encouraging us to aim at collective, team, growth. Have a listen and let me know what you think

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24/7 Christianity

I think most of us get that following Jesus requires more than an hour or two on Sunday morning. The video below is titled, ‘A Life of Worship’ and challenges Christians to live out their faith in every context. We showed this at The Well a few months back and now WorshipHouseMedia.com has kindly added an embed feature for their videos to be viewed on websites/blogs like this one. [This video works in IE & Safari, but apparently not in Firefox. If you are a 'Firefox or bust' kind of person, the best I can do is give you the YouTube link for this video, which has a monster-sized watermark on it. ] 

Preview for A LIFE OF WORSHIP

I’m eager to:

1) hear your thoughts about a 24/7 Christianity – what is the most challenging context for you to be a faithful follower of Jesus

and/or

2) What did you think of this video? Is a tool like this helpful when utilized in a Sunday morning worship service?

Click here to write/post your comments

The Well: Another One Of Our All-Stars

When we set out to launch The Well in September 2008 I knew that music would play a vital role. My chief musical contact was Cliff Cline and I would be relying on him to connect us with other gifted musicians. One the the lead musicians Cliff connected us with was Allen Froese. 

Allen is a hugely gifted musician and songwriter. The musicians who accompany Allen are also outstanding. More than that, Allen and his band are great people. They bring great energy and have humble hearts. I count it a privilege to have them and their families at The Well.

An Allen Froese song we have sung a few times at The Well is called, ‘The Name of the Lord is Great.’ Allen recently performed this song on 100 Huntley Street (check out the video below). You can also listen to some of Allen’s music at his myspace page. If you want to hear Allen Froese ‘live’, stay tuned to our website or subscribe to our weekly promo sheet to find out when he is leading next.

Grow up!

Whenever I take my 6 year-old to visit family that hasn’t seen her in a while, their immediate response is almost always, ‘I can’t believe how much you’ve grown!’

My response to that observation has never been, ‘Are you sure?! Is this normal? Is she going to be ok?’  

We expect our children to grow. Growth is indicative of health. If our children weren’t growing, we would be alarmed; we would take them to see a doctor.

As I think about the non-growth in some corners of the Christian Church, I am curious as to why there isn’t more alarm. Are we no longer expecting growth as the normal consequence of a healthy congregation pursuing Jesus?

Perhaps we first need an expectation shift. Christians are supposed to grow (see Ephesians 4:11-16). The Christian Church is supposed to grow (see Matthew 16:18).

Once we’re on the track of expecting growth, we’ll be better positioned to pursue growth and to wrestle with those things which threaten to limit growth.

One of my worst fears is to reflect backwards on my life 5 to 10 years and conclude, ‘I haven’t moved. I haven’t changed. I haven’t grown.’ 

Following Jesus should fundamentally change us. Doing the things that promote growth, however, is not our default position. We will not drift forward. As I read the apostle Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian church, I detect that there are particular things for us to aim at and do to promote growth as individuals, and as gatherings of God’s people:

  1. Serve others (Eph. 4:12)
  2. Pursue knowledge (Eph. 4:13)
  3. Replicate Christ’s manner (Eph. 4:15)
  4. Work alongside other Christians (Eph. 4:16)

I expound these points in greater detail in a message delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on February 15. 

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The point that I hope doesn’t pass us by is that God expects His followers to grow. And, accordingly, God provides sufficient resources and opportunities for us to pursue and experience this growth. To this end, may each of us seek to grow up!  

The Well: One of Our All-Stars

Strangely, I don’t recall the first time I met Cliff Cline. I had heard Cliff sing/play at a couple of churches, and at a friend’s wedding, before I ever got to know him. At the recommendation of a mutual friend, Cliff and I had lunch at ‘On the Curve’ in Mississauga in the Fall of 2007. Aware of his expertise in leading music, I wanted to run an idea by him—in its raw form, I wanted to float out the vision which would eventually become The Well.

Cliff did more than give helpful feedback; he stepped up to the plate. Cliff offered to coordinate the music program of The Well for a period of one year. 

It’s not unusual for me to seek out a ministry colleague for lunch, but it is rare when a single lunch leads to the birth of a substantial ministry AND a strong friendship. We’ve had many lunches since that day, and I am increasingly thankful for my friendship and association with Cliff Cline.

Cliff is a hugely gifted musician, a devoted Christian, and a loyal friend. Our partnership in leading/serving at The Well has been seamless. Sunday by Sunday, the musicians at The Well hit a ‘homerun’. Thanks Cliff.

You can track Cliff’s music ministry via cliffcline.com, and this video (below) will give you an introduction to his immense talent. 

The Well is in its 6th month. We’re a modest-sized gathering of people looking to better understand what it means to follow Jesus. I’d love for you to be a part of that. Join us at The Well one Sunday as we seek to Drink Life.