In my ministry Replenish, I am often asked “how do you know if a church is healthy”? What I know for sure is that the size of a church or it’s rate of growth or what happens on the platform in a weekend worship service is NOT a sure-fire indicator of health.
If I had to look to one place in your church to diagnose the overall health of your church, I would look at your team culture. Give me a couple of hours to interview your key leaders or staff and I could give you a good sense of the health of your church. I’m sure you would agree that your church’s ability to accomplish it’s vision and mission is dependent on the health and effectiveness of your team.
Far beyond your facility or location or style of music or website or budget, the most valuable asset you have for accomplishing your kingdom vision is your TEAM.
There is an art and a skill to building great teams. And a great team is both Healthy and High Performing. As a team leader, I need a bi-focal perspective. I need to be focused on the health of the team, and I also need to be focused on the performance and productivity of the team. One without the other means I am not seeing the whole picture clearly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you can’t really have a GREAT team without both components.
It is likely that one part of the bi-focal lens is more comfortable and easier for you than the other. For some of us, the dominant skill is building health. We are pastoral and nurturing. We find it easy to care for our team, but we find it hard to manage and focus on productivity. For others of us, organizational leadership comes easy for us. We love reading business books about leadership and we drive toward results, but we may find it harder to provide personal care and development for those on our team.
If you have ever been part of a great team, you know it is something special.
On the flip side, we are also painfully aware what happens when there is dysfunction in the team:
- There is stress and tension and frustration
- We have high turnover
- Rather than focusing on kingdom priorities, there is a lot of sideways energy spent on trying to manage the dynamics and dysfunction of the team.
- We end up squandering opportunity, time, resources, and talent.
- Bottom line… it’s not much fun for anybody on the team and it distracts us from our mission.
It reminds me of something I witnessed in a Major League Baseball game. It was a Sunday afternoon and the Washington Nationals were playing the Phillies near the end of the season. The Nationals were no longer in contention for a playoff spot. It was the 8th inning and Bryce Harper hit a routine fly ball that was an easy catch for the outfielder. He didn’t seem to hustle and run out the play until he knew the ball was caught.
As he jogged toward first base, he just turned to go into the dugout. His teammate Jonathan Papelbon began to get angry and spouted off at Harper… apparently for not hustling. They got into an argument and went to blows right there in their own dugout. It was not exactly a great team moment.
The incident was a poignant reminder to me that just because your wearing the same uniform doesn’t mean there is a sense of “team”.
Your staff or key volunteers might all be wearing the same uniform of “church ministry” but that doesn’t mean they are an effective team.
I love the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:16…
He (God)makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
When you think about it, this verse is a beautiful portrait of a great team.
- “Each part does its own special work”…there is clarity around what people are supposed to do. Everybody knows their job and they actually execute. Each part “DOES” it’s special work. They are getting stuff done and making progress.
- “it helps the other parts grow”…There is synergy and partnership. There is not a silo mentality and you are focused solely on your job or department. In all great teams there is a collaborative and unselfish spirit.
- “so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” The result is health and growth and love. It’s not just health. And it’s not just growth. The end result is health and growth… in an environment full of love.
I know that’s what I want… and I believe that’s your desire as well.
I want you to pause and do a little blue sky dreaming. I want to ask you to ponder what could be.
How would you complete the following statement?
I can imagine a team that…
I would challenge you to write down some of your thoughts. Create a few bullet points that would flesh out the kind of team you would dream of having.