Five practices for working with a ministry team

As I wrap up my time here at Northgate I want to share a few things that have worked well for our ministry team.

The top five lessons that I will take with me when working with a ministry team…

  • The “Three C’s” of a team. When I look for a team member I look for: character, competence, and chemistry. Each of these characteristics is critical if the team is to function at full capacity. The first two (character and competence) are kind of “givens” (at least they should be). The issue of chemistry, however, is one that has often been overlooked… perhaps to the detriment of many teams. My ideal team is one that would choose to “hang out with each other on their day off.” When you have a team that enjoys one another the possibility of high-impact ministry is increased significantly. WHO is on your team will play a significant part in determining WHAT your team does so pick your team carefully!
  • Off-site planning. As a leadership team, our most effective thinking/planning was done off-site! We were able to accomplish more in a day away than we were in multiple days/meetings “on-site.” We had three regularly schedule “away” times:
    • Monthly worship planning – Every month we would leave the church for a day to pray, plan, evaluate, adjust, and prepare for the weekend worship experiences.  Typically this would happen in one of our homes and was scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Though it didn’t always go this long… it was ALWAYS a valuable meeting
    • Bi-Monthly “Laugh” events – Every other month we (i.e. the Management Team) would leave the church for a day, just to “play.” Laughing together is a critical part of developing chemistry and so we invested in laughter. We did everything from ice-skating to laser tag!
    • Quarterly retreats – Every quarter the Management Team would leave on a Sunday night and stay at a cabin/hotel through the following evening. During this time we would tackle ONE BIG ITEM (e.g. Sermon planning; articulation of our core values, etc.). These retreats were some of our best times together and the decisions made here shaped and will continue to shape the church for years to come.
  • Laugh and Learn together. I am persuaded that a team that is learning and laughing together will be a better team leading a better organization. In order to achieve this we scheduled both:
    • Laughing together – I have already talked about this, so let me add one more thing and I’ll be done! We took turns scheduling the “Laugh” event. This kept the event fresh and fun.
    • Learning together – Every month we would read through and discuss a book together. We took turns picking the book, so again we experienced diversity in our learning. Some books read (Revolution by George Barna; Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley; The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero; Growth by Accident, Death by Planning by Bob Whitesel; A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards). Learning together helped us to wrestle with the same ideas together, use similar language when talking about issues, and identify strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities in our church, based on what we were learning.
  • Evaluations. We regularly evaluated what we were doing. If I could do it over I would work harder on follow-up… but that’s for another post! We evaluated:
    • Ourselves. We had bi-annual staff evaluations and monthly “Face-Time” meetings. You can read more about this here.
    • Our ministry effectiveness. We created a “Dashboard” that allowed us to review the “essentials” of the ministry here at Northgate: # of people saved; # of people in groups; # of people serving; attendance; and income. You can read more about this concept here.
  • Visit other churches. I asked the staff to “get out of here” at least once per quarter, and go to another church! I did this for three reasons:
    • We need to remember what it feels like to be a “stranger” “visitor” or whatever else you want to call it! I want our staff to know what our guests are feeling when they walk into our church for the first time!
    • Let’s learn what we can from other churches! It was always exciting when the staff would return with some great idea to implement at our church! We even sent our head usher to another church so that he could observe how their ushers functioned and we bought him and his family lunch that day too! (Take care of your volunteers!)
    • Get some “atta boys”! It’s affirming when someone comes back from another church and says, “We’re doing a good job with our kids ministry, etc.”

So there they are, five practices that have worked well for us these last couple of years.

2 thoughts on “Five practices for working with a ministry team

  1. Paul,
    Thanks. We are going through some growing pains about how we will knit our hearts together and pull hard in the same direction. Your ideas about off-site meetings are really hitting a nerve (in a good way) right now. Thanks for helping others see the value of teamwork.

  2. Wow Pastor Paul,
    I don’t see many Senior Pastors pushing their flock out to experience other flocks. Most pastors that I have seen want their flock to stay in the “yard” never allowing them to venture out because of fear. I see so many churches competing against each other; fear that one church might offer more that the other. They waste so much time building empires and forgetting their true calling—to build a Holy Place for God to come and be with His people. God will not dwell in an unholy house be it church or people. It’s disgusting because in all of this who is worshipping God? I hope that this is one quality you will always keep dear to your heart, because fear will tear up a church and destroy a calling. I have seen it, I have seen it. You truly are a great and secure man of God. It’s awesome to call you brother…

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