What is the best team that you have ever been in? Perhaps it had a strong sense of family. Or maybe you were fighting for something that you believed in. When we think about teams, one quality doesn’t usually get mentioned – how easy it was. It is not the teams that were the easiest that capture something in our hearts but the ones that were the most meaningful. In fact, the people who you have sacrificed the most with are the ones you will become closest to. Our instinct as leaders is often to make team experiences easier, however the goal is not to ask less of people but to show them the meaning behind the teams.
In order for teams to grow strong three things are necessary:
1. A compelling vision. People need to know why their team is important and how it fits into the big vision of the church.
2. An all in mentality. If someone isn’t pulling their weight or doesn’t want to be there then it is better that the aren’t. Teams are everyone going in the same direction and if one person doesn’t care then it will demoralise the group. Better for them to relocate or take some time out.
3. Moments of celebration. Teams need the work but also time afterwards to share stories, laugh, pray for each other, eat and celebrate. Spontaneous celebration of people who have grown. What happens when you are not serving together will transform the way that you experience team together.
At our team meeting last night, someone was sharing how they have friends from a team that they served in eight years ago. They still keep in touch and go to each other’s weddings. The team finished but years later they are still family. That is what we want for our teams at church. Not that we get lost in the urgency of the moment but that we build relationships for life. That is our vision for teams – a family with a purpose.
We want the B.E.S.T. teams and so we have created four sentences to help us create this kind of culture:
Build up – don’t rock up.
We are focused
We are a small church plant and so we must be very focused on what we do and don’t pour our time into. We do less so that we can do it well. Our strategy for mission is to invite, transform and send people. We want to invite people to not just come to church but to become church. We want to see lives transformed, from the youngest to the oldest. We want people to know their purpose and to be sent to reach the lost and bring heaven to earth in their workplaces, communities and schools. For us Sundays are huge. We want them to be moments of encounter and celebration and growth. We absolutely value our Sunday celebrations as this is a key moment where our mission and worship blend perfectly. We are a church of less than a hundred and have seen 24 people make decisions to follow Jesus this year in our Sunday service. This is why we make them such a priority. Whether we have a big responsibility or a small one, we don’t just rock up – we build up. Our weeks crescendo to Sundays. We pray before we arrive, we dream about what God will do, we chat and support each other, we think about how we can add value and make things better, we offer help and we arrive expectant because we know that God wants to do something incredible. Our expectation is revealed in our preparation.
Everyone owns everything
We are united
It is so easy to get lost in your job or your team. Head down, working hard. However, we have come to realise that everyone is playing a part in the same big mission. All of our teams are part of one team – a team of teams. So, if we see something that needs doing – we go for it. If we have ideas about how to make something better in another team – we (humbly) share it with the team leader. We know that people looking in from other directions will bring unique insights and revelations so we encourage that. We also recognise that we all win and lose together. So, we celebrate and own everyone’s wins and challenges as our own because we are all in this together.
Set the tone
We are leaders
The truth is that we all set the tone naturally, without thinking about it. When you are in a sour mood, everyone knows it and it affects us all. We want to be aware of the tone that we are setting and how that will impact other people. This is why we make prayer a priority at the start of our Sunday. Before we get lost in our jobs, we come together and pray. We set the tone. We deal with what is happening inside ourselves before people arrive so that we can bring life and energy and love. You never know what someone is carrying when they come to church and the tone that we set can become the difference for them in finding freedom. This doesn’t happen accidentally. You have to choose the tone that you want to set. The tone that people need may not be the one that sits inside us when we arrive. So we talk about it, humble ourselves and bless others.
Think team over task
We are family
Now, don’t hear what I am not saying here – the tasks have been chosen because they matter. Behind every task there is a person that we want to help and support. However, it is the team that matters first. I think that if you achieve all the things on your todo list and walk away strangers then that is a counterfeit victory. We are not a company, aiming for results but a family who are trying our best to follow Jesus. It’s ok if things get messy. It’s ok for balls to be dropped. It is ok if we don’t get to see everything that we wanted happen. However, it is not ok for us to lose focus of the people that we are building our lives with.
The other thing that I didn’t say is ‘Individual over team.’ This is a place where we lay ourselves down for the sake of the team. I think that this is the centre of how deep relationships are born – through mutual submission. Teams then become more than Sundays. They become places where we support each other through the week. We share prayer requests. They become the people we invite to our family bbqs. People love being part of these kinds of teams and will naturally invite others to them too. They will get competitive (in a healthy way), ‘you need to sign up to the welcome team – we are the best’ because we all want to do things that matter with people who matter to us.
These are the kind of teams that we want to see happen – the ones who at the end of the day don’t rush off but hang around for lunch, catch a movie or take the time to pray for each other. These are the B.E.S.T. teams.
But what do you think? What ideas have you had? What has worked well for you? Share your experiences below.