“Gospel Teams” February 2008
Sometimes for valid reasons we abandon useful things and effective practices, i.e., they’ve become dysfunctional, we lack resources, or we find something better. Sometimes for invalid reasons we abandon useful things and effective practices, i.e., we’ve misused them, we don’t want to put forth the effort, we accommodate uncritically to cultural fads. Fortunately, old things often get refurbished and function effectively again, like the oak chairs from which I scrape off gobs of green paint, restore luster, and make useful again. I’m not sure why “Gospel team” ministry declined.
Decades ago the practice served effectively, both as ministry and as training. We young folks learned to read Scripture and to pray in public, to testify, to sing, even preach a bit. This practice aided transition into Christian adulthood. Congregations were blessed, churches strengthened covenant connections, children observed good role models, intergenerational bonding occurred.
In 1944 Jack Willcuts and I went to Medford at the call of pastor Milo Ross, and held meetings in a nearly defunct “Hard-shell” Baptist church, which later morphed into Talent Friends. I actually preached at
on Easter! During my junior and senior years I preached twenty times, at Springbrook where I as served as Roy Dunagan’s apprentice, but also at Newberg Friends, Newberg Methodist and other area churches. Medford
I recall how a quartet of George Fox college students came to
, while I served there as pastor. A present neighbor and long-time friend, Quincy Fodge, was one of them. For decades Gospel teams served effectively, providing a form of traveling ministry consistent with historic Quaker insights. The practice fizzled somewhere along a time line of our church history. I wonder why? Here’s a list of possible reasons, of “maybes.” Everett, Washington
- Maybe a music genre that peaked with the “Four Flats” became too ‘square.’
- Maybe the practice became too expensive for families and churches.
- Maybe television diminished evening services, reducing available time.
- Maybe competing activities diverted student attention.
- Maybe George Fox faculty became engrossed with other programs.
- Maybe localism in our churches eroded a sense of covenant community.
- Maybe other programs achieved comparable objectives.
- Maybe subsequent generations of youth remained children longer.
- Maybe more sophisticated congregations became less tolerant of novice ministry.
- Maybe multiple staffing impeded use of guest ministries by novice volunteers.
What do you think? Please comment below, and let’s get a conversation started.
Some useful and effective practices can and ought to be revitalized. Is the Gospel team concept a good one that should be utilized again? Or is it just a memorable relic?
Think about it. Pray about it. George Fox President Robin Baker has stated his desire to strengthen relationships between Yearly Meeting and University. (Note the new quarterly letter to Friends churches). If gospel team ministry seems a good option for ministry, I suggest pastors work with GFU and NWYM staff to retro fit the practice congenial to contemporary church needs, schedules, and modalities, and in faithfulness to the Great Commission.
Peace and joy!