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Team Ministry (pt. 1)

Team Ministry Series

  1. Team Ministry (pt. 1)
  2. Team Ministry (pt. 2)

It was once said that a man is an island unto himself. If you have seen the movie Castaway, you know that being on an island by yourself for very long makes you miss the hustle and bustle of the world we live in. It gets lonely quick when others aren’t around. Sure, we often say that it would be nice to get away from it all, but don’t you always return? Even God knew that being alone was not good for man. After all, it is written in Ecclesiastes that if man falls down, there is someone there to pick him up. If you fall down, don’t you want someone to help you up, brush off the dirt, and help you heal? We all do. That is what a team does when a Team Ministry Philosophy is established. The team cares for and helps its members. But how do you become a team player? That is a question that everyone struggles with. People have different ideas, but I want to share a few of my own with you that have been proven through experience.

The first thing you need to do in order to become a team player is write a personal mission and vision statement for your life. Sit down and identify what God has called you to do. It might be very difficult at first. However, let me assure you, once you figure out what your mission and vision are for your life, becoming a team player will be much easier. For instance, when I first began to write my mission and vision five years ago, I had ideas of what I wanted to do with my life. I started writing those down. What soon emerged was a person that was very split and divided over what I wanted to do with my life. When I started grouping similar items into categories, I began to see a predominant area of my life emerge. But what did I do with those other areas of my life that weren’t as predominant? I set them off to the side and let God have them. I released those desires to God and if He wants me to do them, He will provide the way. So sit down and figure out what your mission and vision are for your life. When your mission and vision are the focus of your service to the team, the team is enhanced.

The next thing you need to do in order to become a team player is figure out your strengths. Do you like to be in charge or do you like to be in the background? Do you like to do things with your hands or does that make you want to retreat into a fetal position? Do you enjoy listening to people or would you rather be the one talking? These and other questions help formulate what you can add to a team. This is more than just a personality test, although these can be great indicators of what your strengths are. Once you know your strengths, look for a team that you can help grow. If you are looking at a particular team and find someone with very similar strengths as yourself on it, find a different team. What I have witnessed over the years is that people with the same strengths get along fine for the short term, but it soon leads to conflicts. Find a team that needs your strengths.

Since we have talked about finding our strengths, let’s now talk about growing our weaknesses. We all have them and need to accept them. Nobody is perfect except Jesus. He is the only ministry hero. As you look for a team to be involved with, find a team that can help you grow in your weaknesses. One of the things that attracted me to come on staff with my pastor was that while we were very similar in style, many of my strengths were his weaknesses and many of his strengths were my weaknesses. While we are very similar in personality, we are very different in the office. Since I have allowed my pastor to speak into my life, my weaknesses have grown and are becoming some of my strengths. As you see your weaknesses grow, you find areas of your life that are new territory for you and lead to new things and exciting relationships with people. Being part of team helps you grow in your weaknesses if you allow that team to speak into your life.

Another thing you have to accept in order to be a team player is there are no mavericks. As the old analogy goes, there is no “I” in TEAM. You must learn to play well with others. When you walk into the room with your team, does the air thicken and tension rise? Do you find yourself left out when the team gets together? More likely than not, you are not submitting yourself to the team. When you isolate yourself, you isolate the blessing that God has for you. It is important that whether you are paid or not, your work is for the glory of God. I want to hear the Master say to me, “Well done!” As an individual, you are limited. There may be times when you watch someone do something differently than you. It may even be slower and more awkward, but letting others do things is not the end of the world. In fact, it is just the beginning. You will see that person grow and become as good as, or better than yourself at that task. As people on the team grow in their areas of weakness, the whole team becomes more effective.

Next, as a team member, you must take up the cross of the team. Be sure that when you arrive to work with your team, your own agenda is left at home. You know your mission and vision and how it enhances the team. There is a difference between sharing ideas that help the team grow and forcing agendas so that you get your way. If you are on a team so that you can espouse your own ideas, you need to ask God for His forgiveness right now. If you joined a team because you wanted to make it your own creation, stop now. I have seen people arrive to an event and begin to take over because they didn’t like the way it was being run. Avoid being that person at all costs. Proverbs says that the fool utters all that is in his heart. If you have an agenda and you fail to take up the cross of the team, soon you will utter all that is in your heart. There isn’t a quicker way to alienate yourself from the team than to stand up on a soapbox and scream until everyone listens. You are a member of the team and as a team, whether you like what the team does or not, you go along with it and make your part the best it can be.

Finally, after you figure out your own mission and vision, strengths and weaknesses, submit to the team, and take up the cross of the team, you must realize that your team is a smaller part of a larger team. No matter which team you are on, there is always a larger team that you are part of. Remember the song that goes, “The neck bone’s connected to the shoulder bone. The shoulder bone’s connected to the arm bone.” Each and every bone in the physical body serves another part of the body. The same is true of your ministry team. The bottom line of every team should be to do its best to grow the body of Christ. Do your personal best to help your team be the best team it can be. If you are a Sunday school teacher, help the Sunday school team be the best Sunday school team in your state. If you are part of the worship team, help that worship team be the best in your city. And when you see another team struggling, help that team the best you can. Now be careful in this situation that your team does not take over their functions. Your team can only do what it is intended to do. Just because the worship team is the best in the city, does not mean that they can now go into the preschool and do their work there. Your youth team is just as important as your children’s team. The Sunday school is as important as the senior’s ministry, etc.

The story in Matthew 20 sums up all this. When James and John’s mother came and knelt at the feet of Jesus, asking if they could have the spots next to Jesus in heaven, she was asking Jesus to make them more important than any of the other disciples. Jesus goes on to say that if we want to be considered leaders, we must first serve others. As a team member, you must serve before you can lead. The same is true for your team. Your team must serve before they can lead. This is also true for your church as a whole. Your church body must serve before they can lead. Becoming a team member is not always the easiest thing to do, but it brings tremendous individual blessing and grows the body of Christ.

© by Rev. Scooter Carson

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