Building an effective team provides a challenge for any pastor, regardless of church size. If you hope to build a team of effective leaders, your job continues way past hiring the right people. Regardless of your staff structure and who is responsible for the oversight of the team, you still have a significant role in influencing effectiveness as a team in your ministry context.
During 43 years of ministry, I have served in many different rolls on church teams.
I have served on church teams where I had limited time with the senior pastor because I reported directly to another pastor. The senior pastor didn’t take the time to know my dreams, know my struggles, nor for me to personally build any significant relationship with him. Relational contact happened in all staff contexts. My vision, dreams, struggles, challenges were placed into the hands of my direct report, only to be passed on.
I have served on church teams where I directly reported to the senior pastor and had other pastors who directly reported to me. It was my responsibility to ensure I represented the team well. I experienced various degrees of team effectiveness depending partly on the role I played with others but also, on how much the senior pastor contributed to ensuring our team remained effective.
I also served as a senior pastor who was directly responsible for the dynamics of a team. I attempted to apply the lessons I learned from other church teams. Some of it worked, some required more time to develop, and, yes, mistakes were made. I still believe there are some essential ingredients that need to be driven for a team to remain effective. Here are four of them.
1. INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
Your team needs to know you care about them personally – especially that you care more about them than just their work performance. Relationships need to be built beyond the office area. I know that the size of a team will significantly impact how much time you can schedule, but do not overlook the importance of it. During those personal interactions, ask questions like:
- What are you struggling with that is affecting your ministry?
- How is God changing you right now?
- What is your toughest relationship right now?
- How can I be praying for you?
Do not forget to share some of your own answers to these questions. It’s ok to let them beneath the surface. You are sending a healthy message when, despite your ministry load, you make time for relationships with your team.
2. INDIVIDUAL INVESTMENT IN YOUR TEAM
When a church invests in training its team, the outcome can be substantial. The investment financially can translate into better ministry effectiveness. For example, during my youth ministry days, I tried to take as many volunteers as possible to youth ministry conferences. The investment financially translated into better ministry effectiveness within our youth ministry. I have seen the sharpening of my own ministry because of conferences and training in specific areas of ministry. The more your individual team feels invested in the more productive the outcome can be.
3. STAFF MEETINGS
How do you use your staff meetings? Staff meetings can include times of sharing God stories, collaborative sharing ideas on how ministry can improve, and sharing ministry struggles. This can be a time where your staff feels valued, able to provide input beyond their own ministry, and hear what God is doing throughout other areas of the church. You should desire to have a team that believes in equality and a shared vision, a shared sense of purpose. A place where everyone treats each other equally, fairly, and objectively. The time you spend together as a staff, if used intentionally, can create a culture like this.
4. HAVE FUN TOGETHER
This is something I did early in ministry. Spending time together having fun may sound like a waste of time, but it removes relational walls. Consider activities like volleyball, hiking, team building events, day retreats – anything to take your team away and have fun together. My youth ministry staff looked forward to spending time like this together. Start building fun events into your ministry staff calendar.
There are numerous articles that have been written about building effective teams. Let me encourage you to look over your ministry schedule and look for slots to build relationally into your team. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1Peter 5:2-3
What a God sized challenge for each of us. May you continue to invest into your staff a high value of worth and overall importance to the team.
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