When I work with leadership in churches, I usually discover there are some foundational building blocks that have to be in place before we can talk about the strategy and tactics of team building. The first of these building blocks is a consensus that God owns the church. I know that sounds simplistic or even assumed but believe me it isn’t. When you ask the question, “Who owns the church?” I am always amazed at the responses. If we truly understand that God owns the church, it changes our entire thinking about how we go about things. You want people to “own” ministry but only from God’s perspective. The Biblical methodology of ministry is that it changes from person to person, place to place. One of the clear messages of Acts is that the message remained the same but how it was delivered was done in a myriad of ways. Many ministries are temporary. Others simply need to be put to rest because they have outlived their purpose. And remember that the Holy Spirit is always doing new things.
Once people understand that God owns the church, it is time to talk about trust. Trust is the basis for all change. Without trusting your leadership, you won’t get very far nor will you be able to build leadership teams. Effective team building requires trust because it allows risk and freedom. If your church has a culture of distrust, most likely it is characterized by the following:
Energy draining and joyless interactions
One thing being said in the conference room and an entirely different thing being said in the parking lot
Hostile behaviors like blaming and accusing
Real issues are never dealt with effectively
Guarded dispersing of information
A fortress mentality of leading
If your church has a culture of trust, it will have these characteristics:
Cooperative, close, and vibrant relationships
A focus on working together smoothly and efficiently
Mistakes are seen as learning
Helpful systems and structures
The focus is on accomplishing the mission and vision of the church
As you begin to evaluate your leadership teams, I suggest the use of a Team Covenant to help create a culture of trust. Lance Witt, in his book Replenish, suggests these elements in a Team Covenant:
We will openly voice and express our own opinions and it is safe to voice contrary opinions
We will follow through with our commitments
We will agree to support and invest in each other personally and professionally
We will pray for each other and with each other
We will hold and respect all confidences
We will have frank and open discussion within the room, solidarity outside the room
We will strive to help each other win.
Silence is agreement
We will have fun.
Show up on time.
No e-mail during meetings
Communicate often and constantly ask “who needs to know”
We will not verbally “throw each other under the bus” when we speak of one another
Recruitment and follow-up are also important building blocks to developing effective leadership teams. Don’t recruit by a phone call or email. If people matter, plan on spending time with your recruits so you can learn about them and they can learn about you. Plan on drinking lots of coffee. It is all about building relationships.
Finally, don’t take your team for granted. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Find out how things are going. If you send them on their way and never get back to them, they will think you don’t care or appreciate them. When I hired new people, I would make a point of meeting with them at the end of each week. I wanted to know how their week had gone and would ask, “What worked well for you this week?” “What didn’t?” Acknowledge someone doing something right as well as suggesting ways for them to improve if needed.
Real leadership teams understand that God owns the church. They operate in a culture of trust, are recruited personally and never taken for granted.