The Apostle Paul referred to the followers of Jesus as the Body of Christ because like the human body it was made up of members with different abilities and functions working together. Christians have been teaching basic principles that helped them work together for the past 2000 years, but in spite of teaching a form of teamwork, until recent decades the words “team” and “teamwork” were rarely used in the Christian context.
It is believed that the first application of the word “teamwork” to humans working together may have occurred in the late 19th century. As sports, such as baseball and football became popular in the 20th century, those serving on each side were called teams because success depended upon their ability to combine their efforts. Gradually organizations in business and science and technology began to refer to groups of people working on specific projects as teams.
Among the few who saw the importance of identifying teamwork with Christianity were Philip Van Auken, author of Managing Ministry in Christian Organizations: A Team Approach published in 1989, George Cladis, author of Leading the Team-Based Church in 1999, Wayne Cordeiro, author of Doing Church as a Team in 2004, and Jim Putman, author of Church as a Team Sport in 2008. The team concept is important because it requires carefully defined and understood goals and reminds those participating that success depends upon how well they work together. The words “team” and “teamwork” can therefore be expected to eventually become part of the everyday language of modern Christianity.
Robert C. Frank