A Big Mistake Ministry Teams Make

Is my team sufficiently challenged? If they are, then their gifts and capacities are being stretched and utilized. If they are not, the team is, at least in some ways, probably languishing.
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One mistake that will cause a team to wither or simply fall apart is to be under-challenged. A lack of challenge drains the soul of a team, whether a business team, church team or even a sports team, for that matter. There are perhaps few things more frustrating than being on a team that does not know where it is going, that does not jointly feel the "stretch" of getting there, that is unaware of what challenges and opportunities it faces and how well it is doing at reaching its goals.

Someone has said that the church today is over taught and under challenged. I think that is piercingly true in far too many churches and church groups. While certainly not true on every front, I believe it is going on in far too many places. Christianity today has too often come to be seen as a series of meetings filled with good words instead of a vibrant teams and communities of people full of good works. Yes, we still need pastors and leaders today who will study their Bibles in depth and bring a Word from the Lord, but we also need leaders and teams who will study their communities and the times in which they live and bring a compelling goal from the throne of God that will call together (and to action) a team of believers.

One of the most important questions for a teaming leader to ask is this: Is my team sufficiently challenged? If they are, then their gifts and capacities are being stretched and utilized. If they are not, the team is, at least in some ways, probably languishing. Atrophy is setting in. But, exactly what causes a team to feel underchallenged?

  • A Team feels under-challenged when ... the goals of the team are unclear.
  • A Team feels under-challenged when ... their team leader fails to tap their best ideas and creativity.
  • A Team feels under-challenged when ... goals are not measured and reviewed frequently.
  • A Team feels under-challenged when ... team meetings are long, one-sided and predictable.
  • A Team feels under-challenged when ... conflicts and differences are left unresolved.

But, what does it take for team leaders to truly challenge their teams to rise to their full potential. And, perhaps more importantly, what does it take for the team members to challenge each other towards full performance in attitude and accomplishment?

The Blue Angels

One high-performance team known across the country is the Navy Blue Angels. This team of aviators perform aerial acrobatics with their multi-ton F-16 aircraft. One of the pilots interviewed about their high-risk skill and teamwork was asked the question, "What is your goal when you are up there in the air?" He said, "Our goal is to fly perfectly as one. We don't always get it completely perfect, but we strive to always get as close to actually flying as one unit as we possibly can."

What a great goal for a team -- "to get as close to flying as one as possible" -- and in particular for a church or ministry team (even for married couples, for that matter). It was Jesus who set the tone for the teams that would follow him when he prayed for us to his Heavenly Father: "That they may be one, even and you and I are one (John 17:21)."

Group Turned Team

When your group becomes a true team you will find that they move FROM one perspective or orientation TO an entirely different one. As the compelling challenge of a great goal emerges, people's ideas emerge (and merge) as well as their talents and passions. The culture changes. Something electric occurs. The atmosphere takes on new life. A group turns team and, as it does, the people within it move and thrive:

From me to us ...

From several to One ...

From rigid to nimble ...

From self-will to team-will ...

From frustrated to focused ...

From leading to team-leading ...

From empowered to empowering ...

From controlling to collaborating ...

From several paths to a common path ...

From a group of individuals to a team of team-players.

The article is excerpted from Robert Crosby's newest book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press).

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