Are You a Team Player?

Almost ten years ago I participated in an all church retreat where I fellowship. The theme of the retreat was unity in the Spirit — having one mind, one body, in one Spirit. The retreat was amazing, engaging, and really made people think. During one of my small groups I was leading I asked a question, “What is a team player? What does it take to be a team player?” Some of the answers I received were:

“Encourager.”

“Supporting.”

“Cheerleaders.”

In an article by Pew Research Center, it claims that as as Covid-19 decline and pandemic restrictions are eased across the United States, people are returning back to in-person worship. The problem though, is that only a percentage of those who left are returning. Though it is great that the majority of those who left came back, there are still many who choose to stay at home and watch from their couch, and others failed to participate at all.

Of Protestants who prior to the pandemic attended church, only 69% have returned, while 31% either watch online or have not returned at all. Of Evangelicals, 75% have returned to in-person worship and 25% either watch from their couch or failed to return at all. The most concerning about this is that this trend has plateaued to this point in the past six months with no promise to get better.

Recently, one of my friends posted this quote from Michael Carl to her social media.

As church attendance numbers fade across the nation and online services become very convenient, it’s important to remember why church attendance for you and your family matters so much.

You can’t serve from your sofa. You can’t have community of faith on your sofa. You can’t experience the power of a room full of believers worshipping together from your sofa.

Christians aren’t consumers; we are contributors. We don’t watch; we engage. We give, we sacrifice, and we encourage. We pray by laying hands on the hurting. We do life together.

The church needs you, and you need the church.

Michael Carl

Team players do one thing — play. They are the ones on the field or on the court: touching the ball, making tackles, and running plays. Team players are actively trying to win a game together as one unit, under one banner, wearing one jersey. Team players are the ones who sweat, get sore, hurt, and out of breath.

In the church, we should all be team players — those carrying the ball of the gospel and taking it to the goal of the hearts and minds of those we share it with. Those who go into all the world and preach the good news of Jesus Christ.

Those who were cheerleaders and encouragers in the first century church as played dual roles as team players too. Barnabas, who’s name means, “Son of Encouragement,” (Acts 4:36–37) traveled with Paul on several missionary journeys motivating the Apostle to keep going. He challenged the Apostles to listen to Paul (Acts 9:27) and went to go get him (Acts 11:25–26). Barnabas traveled with Paul to Cyprus, Pisidia, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Jerusalem, Phoenicia, Samaria, and many other cities. Silas joined Paul when the conflict arose between Paul and Barnabas about John Mark separated them. Timothy joined Paul as well on his missionary journeys.

Paul prayed many times to take the gospel to Rome, and many times he was stopped by the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:13). But even though he couldn’t be there in the flesh, he did the next best thing, wrote a letter to the believers in Rome. Not only for their encouragement, but his as well (Romans 1:8–12).

The encouragers in my life played active roles as cheerleaders as well as team players influenced me in many ways. Nothing fired me up more going to Manti, Utah and worshipping the Lord in a church full of evangelists who were going to share the true Jesus Christ with the Mormon people who desperately need Him. As we raised our voices to the God Most High, arm-in-arm unaware of persecution or things that may happen as we share Jesus with the Lost, but willing to go anyway. The greatest encouragers in my life were those who stood next to me in the field of battle doing the same thing I was, and right beside me.

It is important to have cheerleaders in the church to encourage and support us who would never go on the field of battle; those who for reasons cannot participate. But without members on the field playing, there would not be a game. You can still play a game without cheerleaders, a booster club, or parents rooting for their kid on the field. But without players actively participating in a game, cheerleaders and fans hooting and hollering towards empty field or court would look insane.

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