By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”—Ephesians 4:15-16 (The Message)
This time of year is filled with excitement and anticipation as we gear up to kick off new ministry opportunities and reunite with existing groups after a summer hiatus. There are so many details to consider in preparation for the new season—calendar planning, finance review, curriculum and supply purchases, filling leadership roles, communication and the list could go on and on.
In the back of our minds, we remember the mission of The United Methodist Church: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And we know, as Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, that we are to “take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.”
The challenge is this. We must navigate through the details of the daily life of faith while maintaining focus on the goal, the mission, of making disciples.
Have you ever watched ants transport a large morsel of food back to their mound? They use their combined strength to lift the morsel, then they all push, pull or turn, slowly syncing into rhythm with one another. When they begin working together, the ants are able to move back toward their home. However, their sense of direction is often distorted by the large object they are carrying, so sometimes, even though the group is working together, they get steered off course. When that happens, an ant that is moving alongside the rest of the group steps in to steer them back in the right direction toward home. Together, by relying on each other, they successfully get back to the mound with enough food to share.
There is an adage that says, “A team is not just a group of people who work together, but a group of people who trust each other.” So ministry is about a team that trusts each other and works together. We are carrying the load together. No one knows it all, and we accomplish more together than we ever could do apart.
An African proverb teaches it this way: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
When it comes to working together, it is critical to remember the importance of communication and cooperation. You have to listen to one another.
As we lean into this new conference year, it is my prayer that God will work through us and others in order to achieve God’s purpose. In ministry, we are never alone. God needs people of faith who are willing to trust God and do even the impossible to call others to come and be part of a faithful place so that all can see God’s grace at work.
Believing that God-sized dreams are possible when we work together and take our lead from Christ, we become disciples who walk by faith and not by sight.