Optimize Your Team
Building a strong team of volunteers and leaders who work together to develop ministry is one of the largest and most important jobs of a pastor or ministry leader. In the past, we have covered the topic of what makes a successful teacher or leader, and those qualities still hold true! Once you have begun assembling a team of leaders and volunteers who have those character traits, what is next? How do you continue to build your team in a way that helps your ministry accomplish their mission?
The first, and most important step that we recommend is to put Jesus first. The ministry and the mission is nothing without the continued focus on Jesus, because he is WHY you and your team do what you do! Ways to make sure that the ministry is focused on Jesus include continually re-centering everything around what Jesus has called each of you to do. Every event, every interaction, every ministry “to-do” should all be focused on that calling. Pray for God to build a team that will put Jesus first; and then continue to pray for each team member as they do the work. Pray specifically for each team member to continue to pursue Christ even when it can be difficult. Encourage your team members to always, in all things, put Jesus first!
Recognize that each person on your team is an individual with specific God-given gifts and skill sets, and encourage them to develop those gifts and skills. One of the most frustrating things for a team member is to be part of a ministry and to feel like he or she is not seen for what they can offer to the mission. No one wants to feel like they are interchangeable with any other volunteer. Teams function best when everyone on the team is working within their individual strengths for the benefit of the group.
1 Corinthians 12:18 reminds us, “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.”
If you, as a leader, are able to identify the strengths and giftings of each member of your team, you can then choose team members who help fill in the gaps where your own skills or gifts may be lacking. No person can be all things to all people, and a good leader will recognize where team members can shore up areas he or she may need additional help with.
“….I intentionally choose staff people with strengths that compensate for my weaknesses,” Pastor and author Rick Warren has said. “I think the secret of a good church is that you hire people who are smarter than you, particularly in areas that you know nothing about.”
Even if you have a team that is functioning well, there will always be bumps in the metaphorical road. It is important to remember to encourage your team members equally no matter the circumstances. Celebrate the wins, and mourn the losses. Cultivate an atmosphere of encouragement, where no position is honored above another and where your volunteers and team members are celebrated equally. Remember 1 Corinthians 12:22 — “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” The passage continues in verse 26, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
Team building can be one of the most difficult parts of leading a ministry or church. A good team can make all the difference towards accomplishing the mission God has set before you. We think that following the three steps we’ve laid out can be a big help as you pursue your mission. Remember to put Jesus first; recognize that each team member is an individual with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and skills; and encourage your team members equally.
WellConnected is an initiative of OneHope, and is a gathering place for children and youth ministers to access resources, research, and content to raise up the next generation. It’s a collaborative platform to equip leaders and influencers to effectively reach the kids in their communities. We invite churches and ministers to join one another in coming up with innovative solutions for today’s realities. We are continually learning and growing from each other — sharing knowledge, insight, and best practices.