When I first started out in ministry, I was convinced I had to know everything, do everything and fix everything on my own. I mean, isn't that what it means to be the leader?
Thankfully, through wise mentors and various circumstances, I quickly learned I could not accomplish what God called me to do if I was not part of a team.
As I began to search the Bible, I realized the concept of teamwork was everywhere. Jesus built a team of disciples; Paul had team members in every city. David gathered his mighty men, and even the tower of Babel was built by a misguided team. Teams provide power, synergy, excitement and productivity.
Most people recognize that we need others to accomplish the vision God has given us. No single person has all the answers and ability to complete all the tasks required. The difficulty is knowing how to build an effective team that will move you closer to your goals.
Below are five tips on building teams that I have found success with in multiple ministry settings:
1. Make it about the heart: It's easy to focus on skills, production and accomplishment. And although good team members should have a high skill level, this does not necessarily equate to a healthy team. Character, integrity and values are much stronger hallmarks of effective team members.
2. Recruit to your weaknesses: If the entire leadership team is focused on future vision, who will handle the daily administration? Although prolific writers are necessary, somebody on the team needs to be an equally proficient public speaker. As a leader, take time to evaluate and discover where you or your team are lacking. Then intentionally find people who excel in those areas and enjoy watching the strength of your team expand. It is also a good idea to give your team permission to recognize and speak into your weaknesses. Be humble and vulnerable. This empowers your team to speak up, but it also models humility that they can emulate.
3. Have clear vision: Great team members will not be compelled to join a team if its purpose and direction is unclear. Leaders want to engage with a powerful vision that involves change and transformation. Take time to create a clear and concise vision, allowing others to speak into it. For example, our definition of an irresistible church is "an authentic community built on the hope of Christ that compels people affected by disability to fully belong." It took 12 individuals quite a bit of time to hash out and define our vision.
4. Get out of the way: Although checks and balances are important, micromanaging or creating so many layers of permission that nothing can be accomplished in a timely manner is a surefire way to stall your team. If you recruit individuals with the right heart and skills who understand your vision, then release them to do their part. Be available to assist, give advice and provide resources. But if your teammates are fulfilling the vision you have cast, let them do their job in their own way.
5. Redirect as needed: In keeping with the previous point, there will be times when, as the leader, you must assess the progress and makeup of your team. Are projects being completed with excellence? Is communication healthy and transparent? Is there an atmosphere of trust and support among team members? It is the leader's job to recognize when things begin to slide off course and provide timely redirection.
What does your team look like? Are you in the beginning stages of forming a team? Are you the leader or a member? Healthy leadership builds healthy teams, which may expand ministry to better serve others. Be encouraged to assess your team, assess your role and prayerfully consider changes as necessary.
Mike Dobes has been in pastoral ministry since 1997 and is the Manager of Church Relations for Joni and Friends. He is also the cofounder and content manager for the Irresistible Church blog. Mike writes monthly leadership posts at Irresistible Church and also blogs about life and leadership at www.stepsofaleader.org.
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