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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

15 May '08

What a ministry team is not

Posted by T.J. Addington in ministry teams, missional


Teams are not about working with your best friends.
You may work with those whom you consider good friends but ultimately teams are about common mission, not surrounding yourself with friends. Missional friendships are different than personal friendships. Missional friendships are collegial relationships centered around the common mission you have as a team and organization. Personal friendships are based on common interests and passions, many of which have nothing to do with the work you do. This does not mean that healthy teams are not friendly. In fact, they should be collegial. The important issue is not to confuse the role of 'team mates' with that of 'best friends.' The latter is a bonus but not a given.

The primary function of team is not to meet one's social and emotional needs. All of us have social and emotional needs that need to be met. The deepest of these will be met with family and friends. Some may be met by those we serve with but it is not a given. Our role on a team is a 'functional' one designed to achieve a specific mission. We may or may not be with our team long term. The team may change. Our responsibilities may change. Teams are not designed to meet our primary social and emotional needs and if we try to make them do so we will be disappointed when our needs are not met or when roles change.

Team does not mean that we necessarily spend huge amounts of time together. Team does require time. More time than some who are consumed by their own priorities want to give. less time than some who desire the comradeship and friendship of those with whom they work would like to receive.

Healthy, aligned, synergistic teams make adequate time for team. But that time is spent primarily on mission and secondarily on relationships. The purpose of team is missional - which will take time For some, that time will be a sacrifice because they don't want to be pulled away from 'their stuff.' For others it will not be enough because they are looking for the team to satisfy more of their emotional and social needs.

Team is not primarily about meetings. Team has far more to do with how we think about our working relationships, our alignment with others in the organization and the common mission to which we give our energies, than it has to do with formal meetings. It is about a mindset that always takes into account the whole organization, its best interests, its success and the inter-related ministries we each represent. This is a far cry from how many team members operate in ministry organizations where outside the 'team meeting' they make decisions within their own silo without taking into consideration the success of the whole. The latter perspective causes turf battles, conflicts and misunderstanding.

Team does not mean we are all working on the same project. Team means that we are committed to the same mission but not necessarily to the same project.

Team does not mean that we lead by committee. Teams are not 'leadership by committee,' which is a terrible way to lead. Good teams have good leaders. Good leaders practice collaborative decision making so there is common ownership and buy in. But, teams are not led by committee. Good leaders bring proposals to their teams, or ask others to do so for discussion, robust dialogue, tweaking and ultimate agreement. But someone must be the leader or coach of the team.

Definition of Team. A group of missionally aligned and healthy individuals working strategically together under good leadership toward common objectives with accountability for results.