Ministry Today | Serving and empowering church leaders

How to build a healthy, effective ministry team

When it comes to building ministry teams, it should be self-evident to us as Christian leaders that not every Christ-follower will look, sound or act like every other Christ-follower. However, the church often suffers from what I call "mission myopia." Like the physical "nearsightedness" for which it's named, it restricts vision. It results when we gather people around us who possess a ministry temperament similar to our own or when we impose our ministry temperament—with its way of perceiving and serving—on those closest to us.

Somehow, we forget that God created human diversity. Yet the very health, vitality and growth of a ministry depend upon the ability of its leaders to effectively work with people who are very different from them. Thus, it is advantageous for church leaders to use ministry mobilization assessments.

During one assessment I conducted, a pastor who had asked me to meet with him unloaded his frustration with his church board. He felt they lacked integrity and failed to fulfill the obligations they had agreed to. It became clear he had led his church-leadership team through a strategic planning process that advocated and blessed only one ministry style—his own.

Most of the board members were incapable of sustained personal ministry using the pastor's methodology. They were strong visionaries and project administrators—people oriented to tasks and systems. The pastor, by contrast, was relational.

By trying to treat each board member as an "eye"—that would see and do things his way—the pastor was violating each board member's divinely inspired ministry temperament. I tried to help him realize that his ministry goals could be more effectively accomplished if he were to mobilize his board according to each person's unique personality and leadership style. I encouraged him to ask his board for forgiveness and to repent of his judgmental attitude toward them.

We all tend to relate to people-types most similar to us. Yet we must not forget that incorporating the entire body of Christ is essential to fulfilling His mission.

Another of my pastor friends, Paul, illustrates how mission myopia can limit a leader's ministry impact and cause stagnation in a church. Paul shared his frustration over the development of his church, which had stagnated at about 600 members. The church has started many wonderful programs, but they all seemed to disappear over time.

Paul was a church-planter who had attracted entrepreneurial people into the ministry. They devalued people who possessed administrative profiles, believing such members were "obstructionists" who sought to slow down the ministry's many tasks and operational challenges.

As a result, very few people with administrative abilities remained in the church. This explained why the church could start good programs but was unable to maintain them. Paul had attracted and mobilized people in ministry who were very much like himself—to the detriment of his ministry impact.

God has ordained human diversity so that we might support one another with our strengths, and receive support in our weaknesses. Objective assessment tools, designed specifically for ministry mobilization, equip pastoral leaders to respect and mobilize the diverse human resources God has given the local church. The result is ministry health, vitality and stability.

DAVID POSTHUMA is the author of Made for a Mission, a guide for team building and ministry mobilization. He has served as a church planter, church revitalizer and designer for ministry software including, E-Church Essentials and Parent Pager. He lives in Holland, Mich., with his wife, Tamara, and children, Alyssa and Joshua.

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