These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)
While it was significant that Jesus’ disciples obediently waited in Jerusalem as He had instructed them, it is even more significant to note the manner in which they waited. Here we read that they waited “with one accord”.
Jesus' great hope for the church – the number one item on His list of prayers to the Father was, “that they may be One, just as you and I are One”. Clearly, unity, or being in accord is a high priority in any church and in any ministry.
But why? What is the outcome of such accord?
Perhaps the answer is best given in the three verses that comprise Psalm 133 where we read, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony… There the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” (Psalm 133:1,3)
Simply put, harmony, or accord, brings God’s blessing.
This means that pursuing accord is essential for a church and any ministry in it. We can have the most gifted and dedicated leaders available, and the most creative and attractive programmes possible, but if we don’t have accord, God’s power at work through us will be severely compromised.
Therefore, as ministry teams form, the priority is not to jump straight into the task, but to develop meaningful relationships between team members. However, just as any of us who belong to a family know, relationships are not easy – not easy in families and not easy in churches.
Jesus experienced the same. As He developed His team of disciples, He watched as they squabbled over who was the greatest (Mark 9:34), who deserved honour (Mark 10:35-37), and eyed each other suspiciously when He talked of betrayal (Mark 14:18,19). There were surely times when He was tempted to wonder if this small group of men tasked with spreading the gospel, would ever come together as a cohesive whole.
Yet the book of Acts tells us they did which begs the question, “How?” It seems to me three factors were at play, that led to them becoming of one accord.
The priority is not to jump straight into the task, but to develop meaningful relationships between team members.
Firstly, they possessed a shared vision of Jesus. Together they had encountered the risen Christ and together they stood as He ascended into Heaven. When division threatened their unity, as surely it did, they were reminded of what brought them together: a shared understanding of who Jesus was, and a shared experience of meaningful times with Him.
Secondly, they possessed a shared commitment to a common mission. Before His ascension, Jesus commissioned them to be His witnesses, telling people about Him in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8). Again, disagreements followed over method and practice, but what kept them in one accord was the shared commission they received.
Thirdly, as we see in verse 14, they possessed a shared commitment to prayer. There is an old saying that “the family that prays together stays together.” It is equally true of ministry teams. As the disciples waited, they also prayed and as they individually grew closer to God in prayer, they grew closer to each other.
These three factors are important for ministry teams today as they embark together on mission. Before undertaking a task, they must prioritise the building of relationships, and then they must preserve these relationships when they are under threat.
Many times, I have been part of ministry teams that have disagreed and in the process, accord has been threatened, and God’s ability to bring blessings through our efforts has been at risk.
In these moments, unity has been preserved by three reminders: we all love Jesus; we are all committed to fulfilling His commission; we need to stop and pray together. As we acted on these reminders, unity was preserved, a way forward was eventually discovered, and we continued with one accord under God’s blessing.
In conclusion, our whole focus in these pages is on the way in which God undertakes ministry through us. In that context, we cannot overemphasise the importance of ministry teams being, and remaining, of one accord. When we neglect relational unity in favour of accomplishing a task, we limit effectiveness and undermine the very task we are committed to achieving.
Simply put, accord brings blessing.
Reflection and discussion
1. How strong relationally is our ministry team? What has contributed to this strength or lack of strength?
2. Share with one another your own “vision of Jesus” What does he mean to you and what are ways he has worked in your life and made Himself real to you?
3. Why did you agree to be on this ministry team? What do you see as your ultimate goal or purpose for the ministry?
4. What role does prayer play in holding us together as a team? In what ways might we develop our collective prayer life?
How can we grow in relational accord with one another? What can we do to grow closer together?