Large or small churches (or somewhere in between!) can all benefit from the team approach to ministry. Jesus didn’t call just one helper—but a group of twelve. If you serve in a staff position as a Christian Educator or Family and Youth Minister or whether you’re a church member who has answered a call to lead a committee or ministry team, listen up! In fact, one of your most critical tasks may be the leadership of your team—empowering others to share the responsibility of the ministry. Sharing the work benefits the leader (lowers the risk of burn out) but also invites others into Kingdom building.
Step one is identifying the people for the ministry team—and involving God in that process. You can read more here (http://www.buildfaith.org/2011/06/30/need-church-volunteers/#comments) about an intentional process of calling people to serve—matching their gifts and interests to the needs of the community.
Next comes equipping and supporting your team. I’d like to lift up four specific areas: In-house training and support, outside training, community building, and faith deepening. They are in no particular order and some may be occurring simultaneously. But all are crucial.
In-house training and support: Schedule specific training events for your ministry team (core leadership group and all teachers). This is more than an orientation of the coming program year but a time to go deeper into equipping people for ministry. Topics could include effective discipline, using the multiple intelligences approach, building relationships with students, or incorporating play into the classroom. Be sure to get the word out in plenty of time and build fun into the event. Utilize either someone from your congregation to lead this training or bring in an outside “voice.” On-going support is also critical throughout the year— providing curriculum, additional resources, costumes, classroom supplies, and always a listening ear!
Outside training: Look outside your own church walls for opportunities to take your team to a workshop. Check out your denominational gatherings or other broad ministry organizations. Consider going someplace where you’ll have to drive a few hours and stay overnight. The journey builds in more of a retreat experience and provides for relationship building among your team. Which leads us to….
Community building: Another way to equip and support your team is to take time for community building. Your ministry team will work best if everyone is in healthy relationship with each other. Find time to include some, or all, of the following activities throughout your program year…
- Enjoy meals together
- Make time for fun together (in your meetings or in addition to)
- Schedule a planning retreat before the year starts
- Have regular get-to-know each other activities at each meeting
- Celebrate special occasions
- Find ways to reveal yourselves to each other and build commitment and trust
Faith deepening: Always provide faith deepening time. Christ-centered leaders will be most effective in ministry—this isn’t the PTA or the boosters club for the soccer team!
- Study a devotional book
- Engage in Bible study together
- Share faith stories and struggles
- Encourage your leaders to take advantage of other opportunities of faith development such as small groups, Bible study, Sunday school, worship, seminars, or workshops.
Keep in mind…your Christian education team will work best if you treat it as a small group to build relationships and deepen faith together.
And of course you’ll need to spend time in your own faith development in order to most effectively lead others in spiritual growth.General Eisenhower would demonstrate the art of leadership with a piece of string. He’d put it on a table and say: ‘PULL it and it will follow wherever you wish. PUSH it and it will go nowhere at all. It’s just that way when it comes to leading people. They need to follow a person who is leading by example.’
Where have you seen evidence of a ministry team that works well together affecting the ministry as a whole?