II Timothy 4:9-22

As Paul closes his heartfelt words to Timothy, he is prompted by the Spirit to name 17 people. At first you think; “Good grief Paul, why the smorgasbord?” Yet, as you think about it, there is a great truth to be seen! When you think of the Apostle Paul, sometimes your mind gets swayed with the thought – WOW! PAUL! He was da bomb! These people represented a team – a group effort in ministry. Paul didn’t do it alone. He couldn’t have carried the burden of ministry by himself. That should tell you and me who are in ministry that we need other people! It would be an arrogant person that would think they could handle it and go it all on their own. In fact, if it is all on us then I’m afraid the ministry will fail. Every “Paul” must have the right people around him to make ministry effective.

On Paul’s team there were key people like Luke, Timothy, Titus and Mark. Luke authored the Gospel of Luke and Acts. As a Doctor he was Paul’s devoted friend and personal physician. Titus at one point was left at Crete to set the church there in order and train men for ministry. In this passage, he was sent to a Roman province named Dalmatia to work. Mark may have disappointed Paul on that first missionary journey by turning back and leaving the team; but later that vacillation gave way to strength and maturity as evidenced by Paul’s request that he was needed and the fact that he wrote the Gospel of Mark. Timothy of course was personally mentored by Paul and later became the Pastor at Ephesus.

On the team were all the critical behind the scenes servants. Tychicus was a footman who delivered letters for Paul when he had finished writing to a church. Crescens was sent by Paul to tend to some matters at Galatia. Carpus, whose name means “fruit”, is an unknown team member of Paul but obviously he made his impact. Onesiphorus befriended Paul in prison and ministered to his needs. Erastus was a treasurer in the city of Corinth. Trophimus tagged along with Paul from Greece to Troas. Eubulus, Prudens, and Linus are Latin names and were probably members of the church at Rome. Claudia was a close friend of his. They all served and played their role or Paul would have never mentioned them. They weren’t necessarily great names that are common today, but they represent all the people in ministry today who are so critical to all that must happen for ministry to be successful.

There were some members on the team who made mistakes and let people down. Mark at one point out right left Paul and Barnabas. He just wasn’t ready to handle what ministry involved at that time. Demas proved that he wasn’t even saved. He was a fair weather disciple who really never was committed to Christ. His love was the world and he totally abandoned Paul in a difficult situation.

All these people collectively prove a few things:

·         Every team has different personalities. Each person can be used of the Lord to reach a certain type of individual who may not identify with the lead man in ministry but they would connect with another personality trait.

·         Every team needs the “key” people and “behind the scenes” people. Not everyone is a Paul who can teach and brilliantly relate biblical truth. Not everyone is a Tychicus or Onesiphorus who thrives on service and tasks.

·         Every team will have members who fail, make mistakes, and some who even out right abandon the cause. Yet, along the way people we thought were committed until the end – bail out!

·         Every team member is equally important no matter what their duty is. Without each person doing their work for the Lord, someone else gets overloaded with tasks they were never meant to do. As a result, the efficiency of ministry would be impacted.

·         Every team is orchestrated by God. Only God can put together such a balanced ministry and well-oiled machine.

As we launch this new church plant – CENTRAL … I am praying for 5 core couples who will become part of the initial team. I know I need people around me with all the necessary skills, gifts and talents. I know that this team will expand through time to a greater number of personalities. I am so excited to build these relationships and work together in the Kingdom for the Lord. I’m ready to embrace that team and in time like Paul be able to name them all and think of the unique things they brought to the table. Church planting is indeed team work!

Time to Toil…

Colossians 1: 28, 29