I have been thinking a lot lately about why teams are so important to a healthy church. There are so many scriptures that show us that God never sends us out alone to accomplish His kingdom purposes or desires us to do it ourselves. In Ecclesiastes 4:12 it says “And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” As followers of Christ, we “know” this but don’t always apply this concept. Because we live in a world that cries out “I want it my way” and “Have it your way” we can get pulled by our own desires to see things the way we want them. So when we are inundated with quick fixes, selfies, and a “me, me, me” society that has crept into our churches, what can we do? Obviously, the first thing we do is pray and ask God to forgive us of our selfishness but then what? What are some next steps we can take?
First, the team needs to establish a clear and compelling purpose. Why are we doing what we are doing? If I explain it to someone is it clear, is it compelling? Proverbs 29:18a says “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Here we can equate vision with purpose. These questions need to be answered by your team. If the purpose is not clear then it is unlikely that others will be eager to join you. If they do, it won’t last very long as they will no longer see a need to be a part of something that isn’t going anywhere, is confusing, or is dying. A clear purpose is why people work together. The purpose also needs to be compelling. We live in a society that is always busy. If you ask someone how they are doing a typical response is “I’m busy.” If our purpose isn’t compelling people won’t see a need to use the precious time they have left to be a part of what your team is doing. A compelling purpose creates an urgent response to be a part of that purpose. I think about the stories of the disciples and how Jesus called them into ministry. Many of the accounts state that Jesus said “follow me” and they immediately left what they were doing to follow Him! Jesus had a compelling purpose and his reputation preceded Him so much so they left family and businesses to follow Him. Is your purpose clear enough and compelling enough that others would drop everything to be a part of your team?
The next crucial question and just as important is, is your team aligned? This is where those who are in the team need to set aside their agendas and ideas and work together toward the common purpose. The “I want it my way,” “This is how we’ve always done it or used to do it,” and “My way or the highway” ideals need to be thrown out. Team alignment can only happen when our desires mesh with the purpose of the team. Have you ever seen a team try to win when one player has clearly stated that they are the star (not always in words but in actions)? It is usually a very ugly game, teammates start fighting, and ultimately the team loses. The saying “There is no I in Team” exists because it isn’t about one individual but the team collectively. When a team works together powerful results happen. A great example of this is when a rowing team is working together to win a race. If one person is even slightly off course, it causes the team to slow down, others to work harder to compensate for the misalignment, and ultimately they could lose the race. If our teams are off doing their own thing and not working together we will not be able to reach our purpose. If you have never seen a rowing team, I encourage you to find a video on YouTube. When they work together they are fast and powerful, it is truly a great visual of teamwork. Alignment is the key that holds our teams together. We can have a clear and compelling purpose but if we aren’t aligned there will be disunity and ultimately we are back at square one, our own agendas.
Teamwork is hard and that may be why it has the word work in it. This is not an easy task but Jesus never told us that following Him would be easy, but it is necessary to be a part of a healthy and vibrant team which leads to a healthy and vibrant church. What things can you do today to help foster an environment that has a clear and compelling purpose? How can you help your team stay aligned to this purpose? What is God directing you to do?
Article by Amy L. Hernández