Church leaders can set the stage for effective teams

by Dr. Glen Martin 04 Mar 2003 In my book "Survival Skills," I suggest seven skills pastors must master on the new millennial church. In my articles for Church Central, I will cover five of the seven. For more information on "Survival Skills," contact your local bookstore. This month: setting the stage for teams. Phil Jackson’s ability as a basketball coach is unparalleled. At the dawn of a new century he used the age-old concept of teamwork to win yet another NBA championship, this time with the Los Angeles Lakers. As a coach, Jackson identified the role and responsibilities of each player. Nearly all of his players made a direct contribution to winning the championship. Using Jackson’s team model, a leader must first consider the individual strengths and weakness of the team and its members. What kind of team will be most useful in achieving the purpose of the organization? Here are seven team models to choose from. Task Force. A task force is a team designed to complete a particular task or solve a particular problem, and then disbands. One church in Texas embraced the use of task forces and moved away from standing committees. A church leader remarked, "It got to the point where the committees had to meet about nothing, and that’s what we ended up doing -- nothing." Committees naturally become stagnant when they are given nothing to do. A task force can be assembled to address specific issues such as a parking problem. When the parking problem has been resolved, for example, there’s no more need for that task force to meet. Specialized Team. Some ministry tasks require the expertise of people who are competent in a certain field. A small Lutheran Church in Ohio found the need for a specialized team to go beyond the work of a task force. When the church opened an elementary school, a special task force was assigned to do the planning. But the task force failed to establish plans for the next level of Christian education. A specialized ministry team composed of professional educators was then formed. The specialized team set about to earn accreditation for the school, a specialized and monumental task that required long-term commitment and buy-in by the team. They revised the pay scale for teachers and established a plan for their continuing education and ongoing salary adjustments. The specialized team accomplished much more than the task force, but it also required a longer time frame of commitment. Leadership Team. The pastoral staff and the governing board compose the leadership team in most churches. Leadership teams are, by their very nature, hierarchical because someone must be at the helm to steer the ship. This team also functions as the command team for the church, assigning responsibilities to other teams and receiving feedback from them. The

leadership team uses that interaction to evaluate the ministry of the church and to determine what improvements are needed to move the church to the next level of ministry. Mentoring Team. The title sounds formal, but the team assignment is not. Often mentoring teams simply meet informally once a week to discuss one facet of the ministry. For example, no formal meeting may be called, but a few workers in the children’s program may get together for coffee or an informal lunch to discuss the best way to deal with a troubled child.

"Committees naturally For example, Pat Morley’s organization, Man In The Mirror, has become stagnant when an organizational goal to get men into informal teams like they are given nothing to those following a catalytic event, so they can grow and learn do. A task force can be together. These teams might also be called small groups, assembled to address specific issues such as a discipleship groups, or mentoring groups. parking problem. When the parking problem has Ad Hoc Team. Ad hoc teams are similar to the task force been resolved, for team, but they usually have less authority. They are example, there’s no more investigative teams, assembled to address an immediate issue. need for that task force to For example, an ad hoc team might be assembled to review meet."
sound equipment resources and make recommendations to the board of deacons. They are typically composed of people who have demonstrated knowledge for a particular ministry area.

Dr. Glen Martin

High-Performance Team. High-performance teams are specialized and spontaneous. A church in Washington has a high-performance worship team. They meet informally as a creative team to design the upcoming worship service. This type of team needs the freedom to create and experiment. The church as a whole was designed by God to be a high performance team. "God created the church, with its various parts or gifts, to work together to achieve excellence just as the various parts of the gymnast’s body do. Paul declares that though we are many parts, we are one body (1 Corinthians 12)." We are the body of Christ, a high performance team. Cross-training Team. These teams cover a variety of areas where weaknesses have been discovered. Cross-training teams are empowered to make decisions "on the fly" where a delay in the decision-making process would inhibit ministry. They have a firm grasp of the overall ministry.