Team. Does it mean Toronto, Edmonton, Amos, Marathon? Or is it an acronym from Swiss German for “Toll, en andere machts”, meaning “great, somebody else does it”?
The first cannot be true, as my friends in Canada will certainly see on first glance: the definition leaves out British Columbia all together. And, on a minor consideration, the rest of the world.
But why am I talking about this in the first place?
I strongly believe in apostolic teams. Not only in biblical times, but also today. An apostolic team is a team on a mission, sent to represent Christ in an appointed area of responsibility and authority. One’s sphere of influence, as you might call it.
And how do they work?
Let’s have a look on the beginnings: Paul used to travel with an apostolic team. First he was part of one, lead by Barnabas. Later he lead several such teams himself. Names like Timothy, Titus, Mark, Silas, Luke come to mind.
Most of the time after Paul had been recruited by Barnabas and they had been sent out by the Spirit, he travelled with several of those people. There is a short period in prison everybody left him. This is when he asks his former companion and son in faith Timothy to rejoin him.
Apostolic teams are described in Ephesians, showing that a 5-fold bundle of gifts is necessary to grow people into maturity and discipleship, setting them free into their own calling. They work together, complementing and completing each other.
And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love. Eph 4:11-16
Granted, Apollos seems to have travelled on his own. But then, he was a teacher, not an apostle. And he went where Paul had been. Paul planted, Apollos watered. Completion over time, a season for each. And Paul left trusted sons in churches or sent them there when he could not go himself. Yet he continued with a team, recruiting and building up new young gifts.
Complementing cannot mean to let somebody else do it just because I do not want to. Most of the time we read that Paul wanted to go himself but could not. So he sent somebody he trusted. He told Timothy that he believed in him so much, and Timothy had been with him and trained so much, that it was as if Paul was there himself.
So there is delegation, and there is a time of being in different places. Yet it is not to get out the easy way – there was a lot of building up a son involved. Nobody is left alone – Paul wrote letters and sent messengers. And as much as each parting left a hole, it was temporal.
People that left gave opportunities for new sons to grow into their positions. And people left the local team, yet not their fathers.
What’s the lesson in it?
Apostolic teams are for ever changing and growing as members grow, yet never parting as everlasting relationships are built and kept alive. And apostolic teams are vital, as no gift on its own will succeed to fulfill the plan of God.
Today, with internet, email, phones, cars, and planes there is no excuse. And if there is no internet and no money, there is always snail mail. Delivered in lightning speed compared to Paul’s time. When have you last contacted your father in faith, your son? When did you write your last letter? Let us know in a comment, would you?