What does March Madness have to do with the gospel?
K. Allan Blume, BR Editor
March 07, 2017

What does March Madness have to do with the gospel?

What does March Madness have to do with the gospel?
K. Allan Blume, BR Editor
March 07, 2017

Anyone who is remotely familiar with college basketball knows that March Madness is not a movie about anger management. Neither is it the latest novel about a crazy scientist. It is a colloquial phrase for the series of collegiate basketball games during the month of March that will conclude with crowning a national championship team on April 3.

The most pronounced trait of all championship teams is teamwork. Some players will stand out as leaders, but even the best super-player will not win a national title alone. The best coach is skilled and strategic, but he will not win the game singlehandedly. The trophy will be won by a team of athletes and celebrated by the whole team.

This madness is driven by teamwork. Every coach on the team, every player on the team, and everyone who loves the winning school will celebrate as though the victory was theirs alone. But, the whole team won.

Often, I hear successful business leaders say, “The only way to build a company with great success is to build a great team.”

John Maxwell, a popular author and speaker, said, “Teamwork is at the heart of great achievement. The question isn’t whether teams have value. The question is whether we acknowledge that fact and become better team players.”

Automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Others expand the principles of Ford’s statement with the truism, “The difference between success and failure is a great team.”

Teamwork is a biblical value. From Genesis to Revelation teamwork is on display. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to summarize God’s plan for teamwork in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body is not one member, but many.” The entire chapter of that scripture text explains how God accomplishes His will through the giftedness of everyone in the church body. Everyone is valuable to the team.

Teamwork is evident in nature. When you see a flock of geese flying across the sky in formation, you are looking at teamwork.

The purpose of the formation is to reduce wind resistance so all of the geese are able to fly efficiently. The birds alternate positions in shifts so there is equal sharing of their physical energy. They know the value of teamwork.

Honeybees, moving from flower to flower, are part of a rotating system with other bees. Some stay in the hive, fanning their wings to keep the hive cool until the time their shift takes them to the flowers, and other bees resume the work of cooling the hive. That’s teamwork.

Music demonstrates the high value of teamwork. An orchestra produces a harmonious sound of great beauty, a grand symphony. Their incredible work is the result of many individuals who play their instrument to create a harmonious sound that cannot come from the work of one person or a single instrument.

The world of sports is replete with the value of teamwork. Can the world’s best baseball pitcher win a game if there are no players in the outfield or covering the bases? Of course not.

Can the world’s best football quarterback win a game if there is no one to hike the ball, block the opposing team or run for a pass? No way! Winning is teamwork.

Individuality undermines teamwork. It is self-focused. It breeds isolationism. It is naked pride. Individuality is the curse of the church body. It is the enemy of the Great Commission.

Ask a N.C. Baptist Men’s chainsaw crew member or a feeding unit volunteer if teamwork is important.

Ask the church music leader if teamwork is important. Whether a church has a choir and orchestra or uses a praise team and a band, one person cannot match the potential of a team.

Local church leaders depend on teamwork. But, this is not the end of the story. We know that even the best, greatest, most generous, most talented, most committed church cannot win the world to Christ. They can’t even take the gospel to everyone in their own county.

In Baptist life, we build teamwork into all we do. The Cooperative Program is our statement on financial teamwork. Our associational meetings, state convention annual meetings and the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual sessions are expressions of our commitment to teamwork.

Everyone is invited to participate because everyone has an important responsibility.

In the process of working together, Baptists welcome “nominations.” Church members are invited to participate in the mission of the state and national conventions through the process of submitting fellow Baptists to use their leadership skills on the team beyond the local church.

In the March 11 issue of the Biblical Recorder, please notice an invitation from the Committee on Nominations of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to nominate fellow team members to serve in our state.

This is important to the whole team’s Great Commission goal.

Those who serve in “denomination ministry” are keenly aware of the high value of teamwork. Your international and North American missionaries need you on their team, and they want to be on your team. Associational missionaries and those who serve the local church through state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention strive for teamwork. We need each other.

Here’s the bottom line. Teamwork is necessary to meet our ultimate Kingdom goals. We have a lot to do if we are going to finish our Lord’s Great Commission assignment. As I understand it, every member of the team needs to agree on some basic truths.

First, everyone deserves to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ at least one time. God’s love demands it. End of discussion. The Great Commission cannot be ignored. It must not be disobeyed.

Second, it is a daunting task to reach the world with the gospel. When you look up the meaning of the word “daunting,” you will see words like, overwhelming, intimidating, formidable, disconcerting, unnerving, unsettling, ominous, awesome and challenging. Getting the gospel to the ends of the earth is all of these and more.

The word “impossible” needs to be added to the mix. Without the power of God working in us and through us, it will not happen.

Third, the world will not be reached by one person, one local church or one denomination. This is an absolute truth.

Again, the word “impossible” applies. God’s plan to reach the world is a team effort. Every believer is part of His dynamic strategy to love the world with the Good News that Jesus – God’s only Son – gave His life for every human being on the planet.

When we commit our time and resources to our Lord, we join the team of millions of other Southern Baptists in taking the Good News of Jesus to a dark world that desperately needs a Savior. Together, the possibilities are endless.

Our Baptist team’s version of March Madness could be reflected by sacrificial giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. Why not? Let’s go for it, team!