It's disappointing when a team is marked by division. You’ve probably seen (or unfortunately experienced) a team like this. These kind of teams promote their own good above the team, fail to work together, argue, are unproductive, and are often described as unhealthy. So, how can you make sure that you are creating environments at your church that foster healthy church teams that are marked by selflessness, unity, encouragement, and productivity? Ultimately, how can you create and be apart of healthy church teams that reflect Jesus?
It’s no secret that healthy church teams require work. Because they are comprised of sinful humans, healthy church teams need leadership, training, and a goal that focuses on Christ and His church. Whether this is a team of staff members, volunteers, counselors, worship leaders, ministry area workers, or a different group altogether, here is our recommended 12 step process to creating healthy church teams:
Step One: Establish a Leader
Healthy church teams are led by a healthy leader. Within recent years, the term “servant leader” has been a buzz word of sorts, but it’s also exactly what a healthy leader is. If the leader is modeling Christ’s example and seeking the good of others above his or her own, then the team will follow suit.
“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Matthew 20:26b-28
Healthy leaders also know the needs of each team member, and work to meet them. They see, listen, and work to solve problems for the good of the team. So, whether you are working to establish a worship team, volunteer team, church media team, or other church committees and teams, be sure you are either becoming a healthy leader, or looking to establish a healthy church leader first.
Step Two: Identify Team Member Strengths
Once you have a healthy leader in place, the next step in establishing healthy church teams is to identify the strengths of your members. In Christ, we have all been given different spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12), and healthy church teams know what these gifts are and work to put members in a place to use them.
A great place to start in identifying these gifts is to have each member take a spiritual gifts survey (here is a great one to try). Once this is complete, set a time to meet with your team and discuss each member’s gifts. Then, put your staff members in a role that’s best suited for them. When they are serving to their strengths, the team will overall be happier, healthier, and more productive.
Step Three: Provide Training
Nobody likes to feel ignorant or dumb. Healthy church teams offer training that equips members for service and enables them to feel competent and prepared. This training may be one-time or ongoing based on the team, but either way, its existence is important to creating healthy church teams.
Make sure this training is helpful and not a waste of time. There’s nothing worse than having to sit through a training that isn’t actually helpful for the work that’s at hand.
Step 4: Listen to Every Voice
Healthy church teams give every single member a voice and make a conscious effort to listen to each and every voice at the table. This is one of those steps that’s easier said than done. Sometimes there are personality conflicts, hierarchy issues, or even problems with available time, but failing to listen is a recipe for an unhealthy team.
To take this even further, healthy teams listen to every voice and then act upon what was said if it’s in accordance with the unity and productivity of the team. You never know who is going to have an idea that helps to revolutionize, motivate, or equip your team!
Step 5: Stay Organized
Oftentimes teams start out organized, but this quickly falls by the wayside as the work picks up and the newness rubs off. However, healthy church teams make an effort to stay organized. This will help to keep everyone on the same page and ensure that the work is being completed in a productive manner.
The great news is there are some awesome tools out there designed to help healthy teams stay organized. For example, a church management system can help to simplify processes and even notify team members of their responsibilities and task assignments and completions.
Step 6: Rework and Reassign
As the old saying goes, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” but, I like to add “if it is broke, you better fix it!” Basically, if something isn’t working, don’t just leave it and hope it gets better. Healthy church teams identify what isn’t working and make changes accordingly.
This may be something as simple as giving a volunteers a different assignment, or something as complex as reworking your team’s entire structure. Do what’s best for the team for the sake of your team’s health!
Step 7: Encourage, Support, and Lovingly Rebuke
When it come to encouragement and support, this usually comes pretty easy to teams that are healthy and thriving, but when it comes to rebuking out of love, this is oftentimes harder. However, healthy teams are able to do both. In fact, scripture gives clear instruction for dealing with sin in a fellow believer:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17
Examine your church teams to see if encouragement is being given freely, support is offered when needed, and rebuke is present when required.
Step 8: Celebrate Victories
Healthy church teams recognize victories and celebrate them no matter how small! When a team is working towards a unified goal and purpose, it’s a big deal when that’s accomplished and deserves to be celebrated. Maybe this is throwing your team a party, giving a small gift to each member, or something little like sending an email with a fun, celebratory gif or meme (here’s a personal favorite)!
Step 9: Work Through Losses
A healthy team doesn’t stop at celebrating victories, they also work through their losses. This should not be a time to dwell on failures, rather a time to ask, “what can we do better/differently?” Asking these questions will provide clear next steps to ensure the same losses or failures don’t happen over and over again. This will prevent frustration and contribute to the overall health of your team.
Step 10: Provide Times of Rest
Healthy church teams take a break! This should be everyone’s favorite step in the process haha! But, in all seriousness, even God rested on the seventh day of creation, and in the same way, your team needs time to rest. Being overworked and stressed is not going to set your team up for success, in fact, it’s going to lead to burnout. Unfortunately, too many church staff members and church volunteers leave because they never took time to rest. Make sure this isn’t the case for your team.
Step 11: Meet Regularly
It’s impossible to have relationship, community, and trust if your team isn’t meeting regularly to get to know each other and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Healthy church teams make meeting a priority. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to over-meet (nobody likes excessive meetings). Establish a regular schedule, stick to it, and make sure these meetings are focused on actual productivity and the health of your team.
Step 12: Pray for Each Other
This step is not so much a last step as it is a step at every point in the process. Make sure that your church team is committing to pray for each other faithfully and regularly. Ask the Lord to bless each member. Pray for specific requests and pray for the overall health of your team. Entrusting your team to the Lord is the most important step you can take when working to establish a healthy church team.