You Need a Team

The Mission Committee Commissioning the Anti-racism Team. First row: Pastor Matt, Mission Committee Chair Mike Veerman, Committee members William Maweu, Kim Givens. Second Row: Mission Committee Members Shirleen Chang and Joshua Marmol, Anti-racism team leaders Tiffany Ashworth, Lola and Sade Falese. Third row: Anti-racism team leaders Lucy Colwell and Jessica Wong.

Suppose you are called to some grand mission. You want to end racism or see the homeless housed. You long to proclaim the gospel to people who have never heard it before. Defense of the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow is your heart’s call. Or you yearn to bring renewal to a declining congregation at the brink of closing its doors. How do you engage in such an ambitious endeavor, and not have it destined for failure? “You need a team” is the answer. That was the advice Jerry Seinfeld famously gave to George Costanza in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. The pair had just met with network executives to pitch a new show. George had sabotaged the proceedings. “You know you really need some help” Jerry told his friend afterwards. “A regular psychiatrist couldn’t even help you. You need to go to like Vienna or something. You need to get involved at the University level. Like where Freud studied and have all those people looking at you and checking up on you. That’s the kind of help you need. Not the once a week for eighty bucks. No. You need a team.”

I think we all need a team. We may not need a group of German specialists in mental health. But for any of us to thrive in life, we need a circle to accompany and support us. Accomplishing any bold undertaking requires partners. The church itself, according to scripture, is a team effort, compared to being individual parts of one body (1 Corinthians 12:14). When Jesus sends out the disciples to heal, confront evil, and proclaim good news, he sends them out in pairs — effectively telling them that to accomplish His mission in the world, “you need a team.”

Knox’s Sustainability Team. First row: Pastor Matt, Team Co-leader James Curtiss, Laura Raab. Second row: Claire Marie-Peterson, Kim Perez, Co-leader Isaiah Givens. Third row: Amy and Josh Marmol.

At Knox, we have increasingly taken a team approach to mission. When a Knox member hears the call of Christ to confront some evil, heal a malady, or engage in some new form of gospel proclamation, the mission committee prayerfully considers it. If the idea is a good match for Knox’s overall mission — and we sense the vision is shared by others in the congregation — we launch a new team. In 2016, Knox started a group to accompany and advocate for immigrants. In 2019, we started a team to address homelessness and affordable housing. Thus far in 2020, we have launched two new mission teams, each consisting of both High School student and adult participants. The first one, led by youth elder James Curtiss alongside Isaiah Givens, tackles sustainability and creation care. The second team addresses racism. And in just under a month, they have produced this draft mission statement: “The antiracism team is an intergenerational racially diverse group that seeks to make the ongoing internal and external transformative work of antiracism a part of the Knox DNA.” We have formed teams to support longstanding mission partnerships, like those Knox has enjoyed with Covenant Children’s Homes in India, Casa de la Esperanza (House of Hope) in Mexico.

With this team approach to mission, I hope those with a common sense of call can find partners in the journey. And I pray the work of each of these teams might enrich our whole congregation, welcoming us more deeply into Christ’s work locally and globally. Their efforts seem beautifully suited to our congregation’s stated mission: “Inviting thoughtful seekers to intergenerational community and Christian discipleship in the world.”

Pastor Matt

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