What makes a great team? Is it a star-athlete scoring lots of goals? Is it a world-renowned coach? Is it a great uniform or slogan?
These things might be appealing and draw people in, but they don’t usually keep people belonging to a team. It takes more than great personalities and slick promo to be a lasting team. In our world, so much attention is focused on individual players or leaders and their successes or failures, measuring their scorecard and critiquing their runs-on-the-board. In reality however, behind every goal that’s scored there is always a team hard at work. Each team member's role enables the goals to be scored - the defence, the playmaker, the whole squad who train together and the coaches all play their part.
But it’s even more than that, a team includes the loyal supporters in the background who play their part: the grounds-people who care for the fields, the parents and friends who are cheering from the side-lines, cutting up the oranges, running the club-house and refilling the drink-bottles. It’s a whole crew who really make up the team - people who are so invested in this game that they turn up, every week, whatever the weather to support, to participate.
Ultimately what unites these people as a team in the parts they play, is a love of the game. That’s what people turn up for, that’s what fuels them to do the less glamorous roles, the unseen but essential roles that ensure the game can get played, and the goals are scored.
Love of the ‘Game’
NZCMS has a passionate love too: for God and God’s Mission. God’s sacrificial and other-centred love for us and for the world drives us. We are a team who, from a place of love for God’s Mission, are all looking to join in and find our part to play. It’s a love held by all - since our founding we’ve always been a faithful society with a variety of roles - all of them crucial.
For most of us, our part is not going overseas but nevertheless the mission call remains and there is much we do to participate in the teamwork of God’s Mission.
But, we don’t participate in this team based on what we do (or don’t) have in our hands, we participate because this is who God is – generous, abundant, self-giving for the sake of others - and therefore as God’s sent people, it is who we are.
Our great love for a generous God calls us into other-centred love, outpouring what we have for God’s world in need. God’s idea of ‘enough’ is different to the world’s approach. What the world may call insufficient, God calls generosity. Two coins are extravagant. Five loaves and two fishes are enough to feed the multitudes. Beating the chest is called faithful prayer.
God takes, blesses and multiplies our offerings, whatever they may be. We live by a narrative that invites us to extend our hands both in prayer and in giving so others might experience the family of God and God's transformation in their lives.
Here’s what ordinary, yet radical, team-playing across NZCMS looks like:
A prayer group member writing to ask for any specific prayer requests from Mission Partners so she could encourage others to keep on praying, even though they’re not receiving the printed prayer news because of postal restrictions, saying “Intercession is a real focus - so many are living in places less organised than New Zealand - and depend more than ever on our prayers.”
A Link Church invites their members to donate the money they’ve saved during New Zealand lockdown from not eating out, buying coffee, etc to go towards the needs of the Mission Partners’ communities (see the story below). People from other churches offering Mission Partners holiday homes to wait out the New Zealand lockdown and giving contributions for flights home.
A Mission Partner, when asked what she would like to do in response to the pandemic outbreak in the country she serves, saying: “When it hits there will be very little social distancing due to the culture. And obviously very little medical capabilities. But God is on our side. I'm staying."
Appeals from Mission Partners asking for finances to meet the needs of the vulnerable people in their communities. Supporters respond by walking 5kms to raise money for a local social enterprise, or over $8,000NZD being given for medical clinics in Uganda through NZCMS.
We give thanks for the whole team of NZCMS. It’s the whole team of God’s people, who faithfully live day by day with a prayerful and financially generous spirit that makes God’s Mission happen. What a privilege it is to be part of this team right now!
So, fellow friends who are in love with the game, let’s keep on being orange-cutters, and water-bottle fillers; helping to resource and support our teammates. Let’s keep on cheering; sending words of encouragement to others, let’s keep on calling out "Ref!" from the side-lines; petitioning and praying for our world in need and together continue to be the society for the mission of God that NZCMS has faithfully always been.
Yours in God’s Mission,
Water-bottle Filler / Mission Mobiliser