In the previous post, we looked at five characteristics of an effective ministry team:
- Calling: We must be confident in the calling and equipping of God.
- Attitude of Faith: We can approach our area of service with pessimistic discouragement or with an attitude of faith that assumes “God can do anything.”
- Understanding of Spiritual Gifts: Being aware of the spiritual gifts God has given to us and to the others on our team leads to a synergy and humility that brings excellence.
- Character: The ministry is no place for slackers. Effective teams are comprised of men and women with moral integrity and a serious work ethic.
- Compassion: The heart of Jesus is a heart of compassion. And when we are serving in a Christlike way, we will care for lost souls and for one another on our team.
In this follow up post, we finish with six more characteristics of an effective ministry team:
Cohesive ministry teams aren’t comprised of many “independent contractors” who are each seeking to leverage their position on the team to build their own platform or satisfy their own needs. Cohesive teams are comprised of individuals who seek the good of the team and appreciate everyone else on the team.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:5)
There are a few ways this connectedness takes place specifically in a ministry environment:
Fellowship: We should work to maintain relationships with those with whom we serve. In fact, we should work harder at maintaining relationships than solving problems.Work harder at maintaining relationships than solving problems. Click To Tweet
Do you know the people with whom you serve? Do you enjoy spending time with them? Do you create opportunities to share what God is doing in one another’s lives?
Accountability: Another key aspect of connectedness is accountability. Do the others on your team know you will follow through on what you said you will do? Do they know where you are if they need you? Do you often have to be “tracked down,” or do you show up when and where you have committed to be? Does the person you report to know what you are working on, and is it what he or she has assigned you to do?
Acceptance: One of the most helpful things I have learned about developing others is that acceptance is the optimal environment for change. Think about it: when you know someone accepts you, you are more open to their input and more motivated to grow in the areas they point out.Acceptance is the optimal environment for change. Click To Tweet
All of us have room for growth, but those we serve alongside should not feel like projects we are constantly trying to fix. Rather, they should feel our acceptance and know that we are thankful for them.
General Eisenhower once rebuked a generals for referring to a soldier as “just a private.” Eisenhower reminded the general that the army could function better without its generals than it could without its foot soldiers. “If this war is won,” he said, “it will be won by privates.”
A team of godly people will be a team that respects one another.
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. (1 Peter 2:17)
We show respect through affirmation and gratitude. We should be quick to recognize the contributions of others and to thank them.
Leaders also show respect through loving correction. To not correct those you lead is to not show confidence that you believe they could improve. Of course, the other side of this coin is in how you give that correction. Godly leaders will show respect by giving reprimands with a heart of acceptance, not anger.
The New Testament never teaches blind loyalty to leaders. When a leader doctrinally errs or morally fails, he should not be followed.
But leaders who are following Christ are worthy of the loyalty of friendship and synergy. Paul shared what a help it was to him that he could send Timothy to Philippi knowing that Timothy would act in Paul’s interest there.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:19–22)
From sports to the military, thriving teams are built on loyalty. Trust is built as each person knows that their teammates will always have their back. Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”From sports to the military, thriving teams are built on loyalty. Click To Tweet
Ministry teams must also exhibit loyalty to one another. You may not always agree with those on your team, but if you are loyal, you will support the leader and the good of the team.
The apostle Paul lived with an intense focus on Christ and commitment to the future. He was constantly pressing forward and reaching forth.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14)
Effective teams exhibit continuing commitment. Leaders on these teams are committed to growing in leadership skills, and members are committed to following the vision and charted path of the leader. Everyone on the team holds a shared commitment to team goals and personal growth.
As spiritual leaders, part of a commitment to the future involves equipping our teams with training. Anyone can dump guilt on people that they should “be better.” True leaders give “how to” training to develop personal growth and specific skills.
The landscape on which we serve is a battleground, not a stadium. Endurance is required.
The landscape on which spiritual leaders serve is a battleground, not a stadium. Endurance is required. Click To Tweet
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. … Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:1, 3)
Thin-skinned, easily-swayed, insecure people won’t lead well or last long. We serve our teammates well by our own faithfulness to the Lord—during times of trials and over the decades of time. In other words, endurance is practiced both in the heat of battle and by staying enlisted for Christ over the years.
Right in the middle of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to endure as a good soldier is instruction about what he should be doing while he endures. It’s really the heart of what local church ministry is.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
The goal of a ministry team is to fulfill the Great Commission given by Christ: declare the gospel, baptize new believers, and disciple Christians (Matthew 28:19–20). There are many aspects to fulfilling that responsibility and many connected angles from which it takes place—such as through children’s ministry, adult small groups, building upkeep, etc. But everyone on the team should be personally involved in both receiving and giving Bible truth to others.
Discipleship is larger than a curriculum for new converts. (Although we use such a curriculum and have found it very helpful.) New Testament discipleship is the lifelong pursuit of following Christ. And discipling others—teaching them what it means to follow Christ—is the lifelong privilege of every growing Christian.New Testament discipleship is the lifelong pursuit of following Christ. And discipling others is the lifelong privilege of every growing Christian. Click To Tweet
This takes place through shepherding a class or congregation, mentoring in one-on-one settings, inviting people into our homes, and encouraging others in their spiritual growth. And, of course, each person on a team has different spiritual gifts and different roles in discipleship. But all of us should be involved in the transfer of truth to others.
Take a moment to evaluate your effectiveness as a team member. Do these six characteristics describe you? In which areas do you most need to grow?
- Connectedness: Do you seek to further the mission of your team? Or are you on the team to further your own goals? Do you make time to fellowship with those with whom you serve? Are you accountable in practical ways? Do others feel your acceptance of them?
- Respect: Do you show common courtesy to others on your team? Do you show appreciation for their contributions? Are you willing to correct lovingly when necessary?
- Loyalty: Do the other people on your team know that you “have their back”? Do you talk negatively among yourselves about teammates who are not present? Are you willing to set aside your preferences for the good of the team and to follow the team leader’s vision?
- Commitment: In what ways do you demonstrate continuing commitment to future success? Are you growing in your skill set? Are you equipping others with training and encouraging personal growth?
- Endurance: When do you find it most difficult to persevere? How does remembering that we serve in the context of a spiritual battlefield help encourage your faithfulness?
- Discipleship: Who are you currently and personally investing in by way of discipleship? Is there someone God has placed on your heart that you should invest in? Are you sharing God’s Word with others? Are you practicing hospitality? And in what ways are your regular ministry responsibilities part of the larger picture of the church’s responsibility of discipleship?