Building Teams That Work

LeBron James said it best: “Teamwork makes the dream work.” If you don’t already have a team that helps you with creative ideas or message content, you need to start. Two are better than one, and other people bring insight you’ve never even thought of.

But not every team works. Over the course of my time in church ministry I’ve worked with plenty of teams. There have been good teams, bad teams, and teams that were so ugly they ended in shouting matches and hurt feelings. The key is to assemble the right team before you even begin.

Here are some keys to make sure your team works!

1. Find People Who Are Passionate About The Church

It’s actually easy to find people in your church who are creative. No matter the size of your congregation, chances are someone has a background in drama, writing, art, or music. What’s not so easy to find is passion, especially passion for church.

In today’s culture, the church seems to have taken a beating. Some of that criticism is justified. But it’s this complicated, imperfect grouping of people from different walks and ways of life that we call “Church” that God is using to bring people back to him. So look for people who are as passionate about the church’s mission as you are.

2. Find People Who Think Like You Do

Some people like to get a big team together and throw out as many ideas as possible. Others only want two or three people on a team who really focus their ideas in one direction. No one way is better than another, and it’s up to the leader to decide how best to generate ideas and produce results.

Understanding how the leader thinks is important. No matter what, the team should reflect that leader’s style. If you’re a free thinker, surround yourself with people that can easily throw out fresh ideas every five minutes. If you’re a focused thinker, surround yourself with people who are analytical and task-oriented. Whatever thinking style you have, make sure the team can work well with that.

3. Find People Who Are Different Than You

Having said that, you also need the opposite. Look around at the people on your team. Do they all look alike, dress alike? Do they all live in the same neighborhood? Do they all share the same hobbies? Then it may be time to overhaul that team.

Having people on your team who are different than you will help you develop multiple viewpoints for your messages. Think about who your audience is. Hopefully it’s made up of people of different races, ages, and backgrounds. Make sure your team is representative of those differences.

In most churches, the men outnumber the women in leadership. However, in the pews it’s the complete opposite. For a male pastor, getting a woman’s perspective is vital in connecting with the women in the congregation. Don’t neglect this just because it’s always been done a certain way.

4. Find People Who Will Tell You “No”

The worst thing you can do is have a team that’s afraid to tell you when you’re wrong. If all they’re doing is rubber-stamping your ideas, then all your ideas will get through – even the bad ones.

You also need to make sure you can tell your team “no.” Be honest with your team. If someone has a bad idea, don’t tell them, “I like that!” and then do nothing with it. It’s so frustrating to give good ideas, be told they’re good ideas, and then not see them used.

If you like the idea and you intend to use it, tell them. If you don’t want to use it say, “I like that, but how can we make it even better?” If you don’t like the idea, just be honest. It usually takes a few bad ideas before the good ones start rolling anyway.

5. Find People Who Are Committed

Finally, make sure your team is committed to the mission and vision of your church. If they aren’t, then you could face rebellion. Also, when you assign action items at the end of meetings, make sure this is a team that will fulfill those items.

Above all, don’t let fear stand in the way of using a team approach to planning content and creative elements for your messages. I know pastors who are lone wolves, who would rather do everything by themselves rather than share the workload and possibly encounter delays or imperfections. That’s a great recipe for burnout!

But working with a team is really great when you have the right team in place. And by following these simple keys, I’m sure you’ll find the best people for your team!

How do you find people for your team? What are some other keys to assembling a great team?