As a congregation, we have wonderful, incredible diversity. No where is our diversity more evident than in the occupational and professional backgrounds represented in this congregation.

Several different school systems are represented. We have members who are teacher's aids, teachers, teaching specialists, and administrators.

Several different hospitals and clinics are represented. We have technicians, nurses, doctors, and those in administration.

Every level of industrial manufacturing is represented. The communication and technology industries are represented. The freight industry is represented. Numerous private businesses are represented.

This diversity is a real blessing. It enables us to accept an important truth.

  1. Every form of professional, business, or industrial organization must deal with a combination of needs, problems, opportunities, and demands.
    1. That is not a matter of choice; it is a matter of necessity.
      1. Every business exists in the highly complex environment of law, need, opportunity, and competition.
      2. The business that succeeds is the business that effectively manages the demands created by law, need, opportunity, and competition.
    2. Even small business organizations are dependent on forming an effective, reliable teams.
      1. Look at the obvious.
        1. That team must have people who can care for accounting, banking, inventory, purchasing, personnel supervision, product or service development, advertising and promotion, and the distribution of product or services.
        2. There is only one way any organization can do that: build a responsible, dependable team.
      2. What if an organization does not develop a responsible, effective team?
        1. At some point, demands will exceed the ability, strength, and time of "the leader."
        2. When "the leader" burns out, the organization crashes.

  2. God used a team to produce the most important reality that exists--salvation.
    1. Evil entered human existence by human decision and choice.
      1. We made an incredible mess of life and relationships.
      2. The mess we made was too complicated for us to correct.
      3. God did what we could not do; He rescued us from the mess we created.
    2. God did it through team work.
      1. God created the plan; made the promise to rescue us; implemented the plan; and persevered until forgiveness and salvation were realities.
        1. With frustration that we cannot comprehend, God worked through the nation of Israel.
        2. Their failures and faithlessness constantly frustrated God's purposes.
        3. Israel often made it impossible for God to keep His promises.
        4. But God never quit, never changed His mind, never altered His plans.
        5. In Israel's worst failures, God repeatedly declared of Himself, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth" (Exodus 34:6).
      2. God sent His Son as a true human to live the human existence.
        1. Jesus used the last years of his life in a ministry that focused exclusively on God's purposes.
        2. He died by crucifixion to serve as God's sacrificial lamb and create atonement for sin.
        3. He was raised from the dead by the power of God, made Lord and Christ, and provided everyone the opportunity for forgiveness.
      3. When the resurrected Jesus ascended back into heaven to sit on God's right hand, God sent the Holy Spirit.
        1. He guided the twelve apostles into a complete knowledge and understanding of the truth about what God did and was doing in Jesus Christ (John 14:26).
        2. He gave them a perfect remembrance of everything Jesus did and taught.
        3. He worked in doing many things in the lives of those who entered Christ.
        4. He makes each of us who enter Christ the temple of God.
        5. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God at work in the life of those who belong to Jesus Christ.
      4. We have salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and life in Christ because God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit worked together.

  3. I deeply enjoy being a part of you for many reasons.
    1. One of those reasons is that the elders and staff work together as a team.
      1. We clearly understand that the only way that this congregation can meet the challenge of its potential is through effective team work.
      2. Serving God's purposes as Christ's church in today's world is a challenge beyond description.
        1. When our renovations and Family Life Center are complete, our property and facilities should have a value that exceeds five million dollars.
        2. This year contributed funding in weekly contributions, buildings funds, mission funds, and benevolent funds will easily exceed $800,000 and will possibly approach the $1 million level.
        3. Our current commitments include:
          1. Significant mission commitments in at least three other nations.
          2. Developing a growing, effective spiritual education program for adults and children.
          3. Equipping our families to build better marriages and better homes.
          4. Assisting both individuals and families in crisis.
          5. Continuing an effective youth work.
          6. Sustaining an effective program from 60 + members.
          7. Developing an effective support and involvement system for new comers and visitors.
          8. Sustaining a visitation, support, and outreach work with those who are sick or shut-ins.
          9. Continuing to develop an inner city outreach.
          10. Sustaining extensive benevolent programs.
          11. Sustaining an active jail ministry.
          12. Expanding the work of CURE (The Compassionate Utilization of Resources)--a unique disaster relief and medical missions program that is reaching out to many countries.
        4. There are more than twenty-five active ministries that are a part of the life and work of this congregation, and we have other major needs that we have not begun to address.
      3. The only possible way that we can address our needs and accept the challenge of our opportunities is to build an increasingly effective team.
    2. The leadership and staff are constantly learning how to be a better, more effective team.
      1. First, I want to remind you of the people who are on the team.
        1. We have two secretaries on staff.
          1. Myra Flippo has worked as secretary for this congregation from the day it came into existence. She is conscientious, systematic, and she has a talent for caring for important details.
          2. Debbie Belote has been secretary for this congregation for eleven years. Debbie, too, is conscientious, committed, and an excellent projects person.
        2. As of last week, we have four ministers on staff.
          1. Roy Dunavin has served as a minister for 22 years in this area. He was an evangelism minister in one of the congregations that merged, and has served this congregation from day one of its existence. He works with hospital visitation, one on one teaching, and mission trips.
          2. Brad Pistole is completing his eighth year as youth director, and this is his home congregation. The work he does with our teens is better than excellent. He cares about them deeply, and they know it.
          3. In November, I will have been with you for two years.
        3. Presently, we have five elders who are part of the team.
          1. If I understand correctly, Mat Griffin has served as an elder the longest. God blessed Mat with the gift of compassion, and it touches everything he does.
          2. Sam Roberts retired from years of work as a personnel manager. He has an excellent ability to talk to people one on one.
          3. Earl Flood has served this congregation as an elder on two different occasions. Earl loves to help people, and Earl helps people.
          4. Bob Null has worked many years in upper management. He has incredible communication skills. He is gifted in communicating with large groups.
          5. If I remember correctly, Bill Dickey is "the new kid on the block" among our elders. Bill is steady, quiet, observant, and relates to almost anyone.
          6. Each one of them bring something unique and valuable to the team.
      2. The second thing I want to do is introduce you to the newest member of the team. His name is Ted Edwards, and Ted has given me permission to share these things with you.
        1. Ted came to help work with two enormous opportunities that we have:
          1. To help our over-all spiritual education program grow to new levels of service and effectiveness.
          2. To help us meet the enormous need of better member involvement.
        2. The elders have asked Ted focus his time and energy on our education program for the immediate future.
        3. Ted was attracted to West-Ark because of our positive spirit and attitude, and because we are looking toward the future.
        4. He brings to the team a different background and life experience.
          1. Ted's father and mother divorced when he was in the first grade.
          2. He lived with his mother until he finished junior high, and lived with his father while in senior high.
          3. His childhood and his teen years were difficult years.
          4. In his late teens and early 20's he completely left God.
        5. He recommitted himself to God in 1984 and immediately began to share what God was doing for him with his friends.
          1. Some of them did more than listen: they were converted.
          2. Because of his effectiveness, the Iowa congregation he attended paid him to quit one of his jobs and do one on one teaching.
          3. He began correspondence work at Sunset School of Preaching.
          4. Finally, they supported him to complete his studies and degree.
          5. When he graduated, they hired him as second man.
        6. For many reasons I am glad Ted is a member of the team.
          1. He has no desire to "take over" anything; he came to work with others.
          2. He loves to serve, and he enjoys working in the background.
          3. He has a good reputation as a teacher, a hard worker, and a "people person."
        7. When I asked what should people know to understand him, he read Colossians 1:28 because it reflects his ministry goal--to help people mature in Christ, to help each person grow to a new level.

"David, as a member of the team, what are your goals?" Goal one: every sermon I preach, every class I teach, I want to deepen your faith and your understanding. Goal two: I want to help you grow closer to God and live life fully in Christ. Goal three: I want deepen our desire to be godly people. Goal four: I want to increase our willingness to trust God--with our minds, our hearts, our souls, our sins, our failures, our fears, or worries, and our abilities.

I want to let God work through me to bless you.

As an important part of the team, what are your goals.

We are living in a complex, misguided age. It is taking a terrible toll. It has never been more important that we be successfully. Would you feel that we were successful if we averaged 1800 in Sunday morning worship, a thousand Sunday evening, and a 1000 Wednesday evening?

"David, would you?" No. "What would you consider success?" Success is helping Christ change people's lives. "What do you mean?" To me, success is Christ helping husbands and wives in distressed marriages; Christ helping teenagers in crisis; Christ helping people who are drowning in stress and anxiety; Christ helping people discover the meaning of life; Christ helping people escape emptiness, loneliness, fear, or hopelessness.

"Why is that success?" The less focused we are on God, the more impossible our lives become. Learn to let the team work in your life. Let God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit give you life and teach you how to live it.

Are you alive in Jesus Christ? Do you know how to live life in Jesus? Does evil have control or does God have control of your life?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 30 August 1998

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