I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the Tour de France over the last week or so. I’m not a mad bike enthusiast nor am I knowledgeable of the intricacies of racing strategy, but it is an intriguing and exciting sport to watch (and you do get to see some of the lovely scenery they ride through). From time to time, an individual rider might break from the lead group and go out on his own. But usually this cannot be sustained, and he is caught up to by the other riders.

What seems to work better is when a small group of four or five riders breaks from the peloton, and together they make a bid for glory. Rather than each individually going for broke, the small group support each other, taking it in turns to lead the group or to fall back to get into the slipstream of the others. Yes, they all want first place at the finish line, but getting there over the longer haul needs the assistance of each other.

Jesus would have ridden a good Tour de France. When it came to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, he knew the strategic advantage of not ‘going it alone’ but doing it together. When the time came for Jesus to send out his disciples, he didn’t send them out solo, but in pairs. Yes, there was a significant urgency about their task of proclamation – nothing was to be taken that would hinder or slow up their missionary drive. But they were not to do this alone or single-handed. There was, rather, a togetherness in Jesus’ strategy in sending out missionaries for the Gospel.

Living a Christian life is best done together. While there have always been a few outstanding and heroic individuals in every generation (we call them saints), the best way of building missionary discipleship is by doing it together. A Christian family, for instance, can encourage one another in growing in faith and supporting each other. A parish, as a family of families, likewise works best when working together – some leading for a bit, then others taking up the charge to give rest and renewal. As Jesus said, where two or three are gathering in my name, there I will be with them.

By the Spirit’s favour – which is what the word ‘grace’ means – we have all been given what we need to work together to proclaim the nearness of God’s Kingdom. We got this gift in our Baptism, and it was strengthened in us at our Confirmation. Weekly, we can take the lead as we are nourished by the grace of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and we can each move into the slipstream of renewal whenever we need through sacramental forgiveness. The Lord has arranged things such that every one of us, no matter what lack of gifts we might think we have, can take the way of the Gospel with hope and purpose.

There’s no need to think you have to wait to be appointed to some special ministry or role before you can be missionary disciples. (That goes for us ordained ministers especially!) Jesus didn’t wait to train up a select few before sending them out. He sent each of the disciples, without exception, to be missionaries in his name – to heal, to teach, to forgive, to comfort, and to proclaim the nearness of the Lord to those who feel far away. We can all do these things, for we have all been anointed and sent. Just take your lead from the clever strategy of Jesus, and learn to do it together.