When hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana in late August 2005. It remained headline news for many weeks, not only due to the terrible devastation caused by the storm, but also for the aftermath of the inadequate and confused initial response. The slow and disorganized response of the first week created much anger and frustration, not only among the hurricane victims, but also among those of us who watched the images.
How did it happen? Federal and local officials weren’t on the same page, people with supplies couldn’t get them where they were needed, and no one knew who was in charge. Damage caused by water and wind was compounded because people weren’t working together. Once the military arrived, with its clear command structure, working communications, and trained personnel, things happened and the situation improved rapidly. The importance of working together was a lesson learned, and many agencies and municipalities are revamping their disaster preparedness plans as a result.
The church is a together place. We worship, learn and work together. We do not choose this together community. God brings us together by first bringing us to Himself, by his grace and through faith in His Son. As He brings us to Himself, we find ourselves bound to the others in His family as brothers and sisters in Christ. The togetherness of our community starts with a shared relationship with God, and extends through worshiping and studying together to our serving together.
How ‘together’ is the serving in our church? Does it occur by happenstance or by intention? Are we on the same page? Can and do we communicate well? Are we well trained? Do we get supplies, training, and information where and as it’s needed? Are we a collection of independent workers, doing our own thing, or a coordinated team? Are the groups of workers from the various ministries supporting each other, or competing with each other for workers, space and resources?
What about those in the church who are not among the workers of the church? Are some of them on the sidelines because they’ve seen the aftermath of un-together community, one in which they’ve been pressured or guilted into serving, experienced the hardships without any rewards, or served in situations where they were unqualified or untrained or unsupported?
The effective working together seen in the military doesn’t happen by chance. And it doesn’t happen by chance in the church either. Good working together happens when leaders think together, plan together, and deliberately do the things that bring people together and keep them together. It happens when all the workers think and act ‘together.’
Together is better, but not necessarily easier. Because we have varying personalities, backgrounds, and expectations, working together takes more work than working alone.
But it’s worth the work. When we serve together, results are multiplied. Needs are met, and goals are accomplished. Workers benefit from the support of fellow workers. The multiplicity of gifts on a team multiplies results. One plus one becomes three.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. . . A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecc. 4:9, 12b).
Our broken and hurting world needs to know about the Savior. That is our task. And it’s done better together.