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Ed Jordan: What Makes a Great Team?

Posted: 2/9/19 at 8:20am. Column by Ed Jordan.

Very soon March Madness will be upon us as the Championship NCAA Tournament begins. I love to watch the excellent teams play and compete.

Every year it is a reminder of some of the fundamentals regarding team sports. One player, no matter how fabulous he or she is, does not a great team make.

Once the opposing team puts two defenders upon one player, the results from that one player change drastically. If all the scoring or pizazz of a team is dependent upon one player, the team will most likely fail.  

So what are some of the many things that contribute to having a winning team? Continuing with our basketball team model, there are three distinct positions that are fulfilled by five people.

There are normally two guards. Guards are normally good ball handlers, accurate passers, fast, often good three-point shooters, and can call or signal plays.

There are two forwards, who normally are taller than the guards, and good at shorter shots, passing, rebounding, and can often dunk the ball.

Teams require the contribution of many participants who are well trained to step up to help the team do its best.

Then there is a center, normally a tall, strong, inside player who can made good moves to shoot in close, dunk the ball, or do short hook shots. The center is often the best rebounder; and is often a playmaker who passes to teammates who are moving towards the basket.  

So if there are really good players in each of these positions, do we have a great team, or a winning team? Maybe yes, maybe no.

There are also five to seven other players, who also must play at a similar level and be able to substitute on demand. Beyond that, few teams are ever better than the quality of the coaches who coach them.

It’s the coach who develops an effective game plan and trains the players to execute plays and make adjustments.

A good support group also helps teams reach their potential, as does a cheering and supportive crowd.  

Good teams execute the fundamentals of the game almost automatically, because the fundamentals have become second nature.

Good teams practice together so much that they know how each teammate will play, and good teams utilize each player to the maximum.

And each player gives all they can give—at each and every practice and game.   

Great teams are composed of many players who perform as one. Team sports require commitment by lots of people. They support each other, encourage each other, and stand by one another.  

Great churches have the same characteristics as great sports teams. Teams require the contribution of many participants who are well trained to step up to help the team do its best.

The pastor is a coach who while understanding playing, must focus more on coaching the team to work together to use their gifts as a team. Church members, like team members, must work at giving their best to the Lord and consistently doing their part in helping the church be successful.

We are each responsible for our weekly preparation for the team’s weekly effort. We encourage those having a bad day, pick up the slack when someone is hurting, and cheer one another on. We believe in our church, love our church, and want the world to see the magnificence of our God as we carry out God’s plans in the world.

The church cannot win when there are only one or two really skillful players who try to carry the load of the whole operation.  

The writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 12:1-2 made it pretty clear that even in running a race, we do it as a team—perhaps a relay team. He uses the words “we” to describe the racers, not “I.” 

Christianity is a team “sport.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) states: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  

The Christian life is not intended to be a secret life, nor a life lived in self-absorbed isolation and unattached to the church. As Christians we are on God’s team, and we need to share in what the team is doing. We need the team, and the team needs us!

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.