Launching Effective Ministry Teams
In almost any ministry situation today effective teams are a key, but how do you create such a team? Effective teams do not simply “happen”. They have to be built. As you move forward in building teams, you can learn a great deal by examining the experience of others. Here are some insights from people who have been working in team-based ministries:
- Don’t prejudge people. Those people who initially appear to be good team leaders sometimes do not turn out to be the best choice, while others bubble up to the surface as teams continue to develop. These emerging individuals are what we look for. Their ability and level of commitment constantly surprises us.
- Realize that structural change is becoming more challenging. Structuring teams in older traditional ministries is among the most difficult of challenges. It takes extra time to turn around a group that is comfortable relying on an established system of leader and worker. It can be hard to let go of a system that has been institutionalized but has little reason to be continued.
- Be careful not to isolate your teams from each other and the shared vision. Teams need to have contact with each other to generate synergy and to share encouragement. Isolation slows momentum. Bring the various teams together to share what is going on. The success of others often encourages those who are finding it hard work. Also, the shared vision can be reiterated and each person’s part, as well as the team’s part, can be tied to the whole. There are many creative ways of doing this, and team members are often not short on imagination in this area.
- Be prepared to make adjustments in your ideas of leadership style. The shift from being a director to being a coach will need to be negotiated and reinforced along the way. It usually takes a minimum of 12 months to fully make the transition. A common struggle in the initial stage is the tendency to keep a tighter rein than most teams are comfortable with. There is widespread reluctance by leaders to share responsibility. The number one reason for this is fear that the job won’t be done correctly.
- Don’t assume that because leaders have agreed to do it, that it will be easy. Most ministry organisations discover that a great deal of persistence is required when teams are faced with unforeseen challenges. However, because there is a higher degree of ownership and commitment on the part of everybody involved, these snags along the way are easier to deal with and overcome.
- Regularly check to see if your activities and strategies are linked to your vision. Core values form the foundation for your unique vision. They represent “our way” of doing things. Values should be sharpened as an organisation develops and matures over the years. They become more contagious and less negotiable. Values and vision represent the best means for determining “fit” for prospective team members. A chief responsibility of leadership is to courageously align the various ministry teams within the overall vision. With maturity and sensitivity, this process can be carried out effectively, refocusing rather than inhibiting the creative gifts of each individual.
Quotes on Team Building
A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable – John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith.
There are three keys to making a successful team: (1) Coming together is the beginning. (2) Working together is progress. (3) Staying together is success. – Henry Ford
When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality. – Joe Paterno
The point of the game is not how well the individual does, but whether the team wins. That’s the beautiful heart of the game, the blending of personalities, the mutual sacrifices for the group success. – Bill Bradley
In the movie Rocky, the boxer Rocky Balboa sums up the power of teamwork and synergy as he describes the relationship between him and his girlfriend: “I’ve got gaps, she’s got gaps. Together, we’ve got no gaps.”
Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International, a ministry that publishes a wide range of quality resources. Colin is responsible for the research and development side of this ministry. He has thirty years of experience as a pastor, lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, coaches and leadership of a wide range of organisations. He is a recognized authority in areas like coaching, leadership development, team building, organizational health and growth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org