Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Ecc. 4:12
The value of community cannot be understated.
Not one person who has ever achieved some level of success can say that they did it alone. On the contrary, nearly every award acceptance speech lists the many people involved in bringing the success about. Even negotiating life itself requires more than self.
Work for the kingdom is no exception. Ministry in the context of community will almost always bring about greater gains to the family of God. Why do we say “almost always?” Hang around until the end of this post and find out – but first, the positives.
This is an effect where the output of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, if we take what an individual can do in a certain timeframe and add it to what another individual can do in the same timeframe, the sum would be less than what the two could accomplish working together. Synergy has been found to be a reality with humans and working animals. Working in community adds to output.
Only when there is more than one person involved in a project can there be encouragement through difficult times and failure. Every enterprise involves challenging times. Every person has moments of doubt. Having the encouragement of a teammate during those times and moments often means the difference between moving on and bailing out.
It’s always needed, but not always valued. Having someone challenge your thinking or current course of action is often hard to accept. Without that person asking the hard questions, though, a project could go completely off course and get exhausted in pursuits that lead nowhere. An extra set of eyes on a subject can often result in better, or at least more, ways of looking at a roadblock. In short, accountability can make us more efficient and keep us from making unnecessary mistakes.
We don’t usually mention fun in a discussion about success and kingdom growth, but we believe it’s true to say that more will be accomplished if those working at the project are having fun in the process. Experiencing something with someone else adds to the value of it. Have you ever recounted scenes from a movie on the way home and laughed at the situation all over again, even though you just both saw the same thing? Just as encouragement limits the depth of sorrow, so fun elevates the heights of joy.
We are sure there are more positive things that working in community brings, but as promised, there is a dark side to community that should be mentioned. Whenever two personalities, generally selfish as we all are, partner on any project, disagreements are certain. If the parties involved are not mature enough to work through those disagreements significant harm can be done, both to those involved and to the advance of the kingdom. Some research has shown that the number one reason cross-cultural workers leave their countries of service is unresolved conflict between teammates.
Conflict is a normal part of life and work. Jesus knew it would happen and that is why he consistently said, “Love each other.” He even said that this is how people would know we are different. The norm is to look out for oneself. To sacrifice oneself for another is not normal – it’s Christ-like. If we can just accomplish that one thing, kingdom growth will happen as a result. The greatest advantage to working in community is that it gives us the opportunity to love each other in view of the world.
And as we love each other, the world will know that we are Jesus’ followers.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:35