This week, our ministry staff will meet for two days of off-site training. I look forward to this annual staff orientation. During these days, I share our church theme for the following year (which gives each area of ministry staff time to creatively develop it for lessons and theming). And I share various lessons related to ministry training and personal development.
The Lord has brought together such a unique and gifted team here at Lancaster Baptist Church, West Coast Baptist College, Lancaster Baptist School, and Striving Together Publications. I’m excited about the year ahead and the co-laborers I get to serve alongside. I’m really looking forward to our time of renewal and realignment together.
Through the years, and especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve appreciated the synergistic spirit of our staff team. Although we have godly, gifted people, I see such a willingness from each to pull together as a team for the glory of God rather than for personal self-promotion or self-fulfillment.
What are the qualities that make a staff synergistic rather than individualistic? I see at least seven among our staff:
1. Love for the Lord
The first and most important quality of a synergistic staff member is that he or she nurtures a love for the Lord. It’s the number one requirement for all Christians—in ministry or not. And it’s especially important in ministry.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)
Love for self kills our passion and joy, and it undermines our ability to serve others.
Furthermore, our horizontal relationships—with others on staff or with those we serve—won’t be healthy if our vertical relationship—with the Lord—isn’t growing.Our horizontal relationships—with others—won’t be healthy if our vertical relationship—with the Lord—isn’t growing. Click To Tweet
2. A shared biblical worldview
What brings people together in a ministry context is shared doctrine and beliefs. We need a view of this world and the world to come that is based on the Word of God and applied to our personal and ministry lives.
A biblical worldview reminds us that God alone is worthy of our worship, that His Word is our final authority, and that His ways are both right and best.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12–13)
Christians with a biblical worldview must be the ones to redirect people’s attention to God during tumultuous seasons. Rather than being issue-oriented politically or socially, we must be eternally-oriented while remaining loyal to Christ and to biblical truth.
The kind of synergy required for local church work requires also a common understanding of shared doctrine, particularly on the doctrines that make the core beliefs of that church.
3. A Passion for the local church
In our context, all of our ministries are connected to Lancaster Baptist Church. But even in parachurch contexts, there must be a high value placed on the local church. In fact, there would be no parachurch organizations without the local church.
One of the things I greatly appreciate about the administration and faculty of West Coast Baptist College is the whole-hearted investments they give to serving people at Lancaster Baptist Church. Our faculty are not only present at church services and events, but they are often leading lost people to Christ and seeing them baptized, discipled, and growing in their faith at Lancaster Baptist Church.
Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. The apostle Paul spent his ministry life planting churches and then caring for their spiritual development.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:28)
Satan is always working to discourage God’s people in their love for the local church. For those in ministry, he comes to us at times of fatigue and suggests our labors are futile and we should quit caring.
Fight this fatigue. Take a day off. Renew and recalibrate your heart. Spend time in prayer. Do whatever you need to do to retain a passion for what Jesus loved and gave His life for.
4. Reflection of the leader’s vision
There has to be a shared vision for ministry, and that has to come from the team’s leader, which in the local church context is the pastor.
The word Paul used to describe a sharing of ministry direction and effort was fellowlabourer.
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3)
The whole idea of synergy is that multiple people are combining their efforts to reach a shared goal. Synergy is enhanced by having a variety of spiritual gifts, personal skills, and unique perspectives; synergy is diminished by an autonomy of direction in using these gifts, skills, and perspectives. When team members become individualistic and have a personal agenda, joy leaves and friction comes.Synergy is enhanced by having a variety of spiritual gifts, personal skills, and unique perspectives; synergy is diminished by an autonomy of direction in using these gifts, skills, and perspectives. Click To Tweet
5. Compassion for the lost
Human nature is such that sometimes the things we should do begin to feel like duty. We lose our heart and passion for it. Sharing the gospel is one of those things. If we lose our love for Christ and compassion for the lost, we will not share the gospel as we should.
More than a team requirement to engage in outreach ministry, there has to be a root conviction in our hearts that compels us to tell people who are lost without Christ that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and offers them eternal life.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36–38)
When we who know Christ and have given our lives to make Him known aren’t actually sharing the gospel with the lost, it isn’t because we don’t know how to do it. It is because our compassion isn’t what it should be.When we who know Christ and have given our lives to make Him known aren’t actually sharing the gospel with the lost, it isn’t because we don’t know how to do it. It is because our compassion isn’t what it should be. Click To Tweet
If you have lost that compassion, as we all do at times, ask God to give it to you again. And then go into your community with the specific goal of engaging lost people in the one message they must hear.
6. A pursuit of excellence
None of us have arrived which means that all of us have room to grow. Synergistic team members don’t settle into their current areas of skill and especially their spiritual walk. They pursue growth and excellence.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9–11)
On a spiritual level, this looks like growing in discernment and the evident fruit of the Spirit. On a project level, this looks like caring about details and caring to grow in the skills that make up one’s primary responsibilities.
7. A spirit of grace
If you serve on a team with humans, you serve on a team with others who need grace. Grace helps us to forgive each other. (And there’s nothing to kill synergy like a harbored grudge.) It helps us to bite our tongues when we are having a rough day. It helps us to be kind.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29–32)
Would you rather serve on a team with others who are watching for you to mess up and accuse you? Or with others who are encouraging you to succeed and grow? That is the difference that a spirit of grace can make.If you serve on a team with humans, you serve on a team with others who need grace. Click To Tweet
How about you?
One area that requires a team members individuality is personal evaluation. And for that evaluation, I would encourage you to ask yourself two questions, using this list as a filter:
- Am I contributing to the synergy of those I serve alongside?
- In which of these areas do I most need to grow?