In my last post on leadership, I focused on the importance of the ‘big idea’ and how it can bring a leadership team together. This post is dedicated to that next important part of church leadership; teamwork.
Teamwork does not come naturally to me. I am much more inclined to venture out and do things on my own, rather than sit around and wait for a committee to make up their mind. First of all, let me clarify that there is a huge difference between a committee and a team. A committee gets together to make decisions, a team executes a plan of action. Hopefully, that subtle difference can point towards the reasoning behind so many bottlenecked decisions.
Teams are an integral part of ministry. The longer I am part of a healthy functioning team, the more I appreciate the importance of team play, and wonder how I survived in ministry for so long without one. An individual can only stretch so far, cover a certain area, or go a certain distance. At some point every leader will face insurmountable odds, there will always be something else to do or achieve. The work of a minister is never done. Most of the ministers I know would love to have at a minimum a few clones to tackle all of the projects, events, crisis and fun stuff that comes with ministry. An individual can’t; a team can.
When it comes to creating a team, there are a few essentials that must be in play. First, everyone must be sold on the same idea. If individuals are trying to run their own satellite ministries they will inevitably create a competition, not a team. How many ministries duke it out for budgets, volunteers etc? If every ministry is on the same page, they are each a lot more likely to understand the various needs of each part, and they way the ministries need to interact.
Secondly, every team member must be a solid position player. Knowing that the person across the hall from you is very good at what they do creates an atmosphere of trust. I know that our worship minister is phenomenal at creating and leading our events. This trust in his ability allows me to trust that when our kids are in his hands they are involved in a stellar worship experience. Our children’s and Jr High minister has an awesome ministry as well, I know that the kids she graduates into our ministry have a great foundation in the word. Instead of competing with these ministries, I am much more inclined to see how we can work together to build each other up. This past weekend at our annual NerfWar we brought the Jr High into the mix and had our worship leader put something together for the whole crew. Each ministry blessed the other, and we all walked away blessed.
Another benefit of solid position play is that it keeps the criticism down to a minimum. I know our preacher is going to bring a solid message every Sunday, and I have yet to even think about telling him how to improve. The same goes for the rest of the staff as well. Solid delivery keeps that desire to ‘help you improve your ministry’ to minimum. The benefit is that we often improve by watching the others excel around us. This improvement often comes from a desire to replicate the success of those around us. Knowing that if I succeed I will hear the support of my colleagues is much more of a motivator than knowing that if I fail I will hear all of their ‘critiques’.
Communication is another key to creating teamwork. Clearly spelling out direction, specific roles, boundaries and expectations may sound basic, but fundamentals win games. I know exactly what my team expects of me over the course of the next month. I know what I need to lead, hand off, pass over, create, guide and read over. I also know what I do not need to worry about at all. The trickiest part of communication is that there is always room for improvement, and so sometimes our communication is about how we communicate. These are the staff meetings that test my morning awareness, but end up being some of the most powerful catalysts for positive change.
Lastly, there are always a few x-factors that lead to healthy teamwork. Most of our staff has the same sense of humor which creates a pretty strong bond. We also try and spend time with each other on a consistent basis. I am a huge fan of ‘hall talk’. All of our staff at some point has had me walk in to their office and sit down to chat. (This is probably why they close their doors so often!) Some of our best ideas, deepest discussions and biggest revelations have come from intentional impromptu conversations. Staff retreats are another key to our strong bond, usually revolving around intentional teamwork training and discussion. Oh yeah, we also genuinely like each other.
One love, one heart.