One question I find myself asking church leaders is “What is it like to be on your team?”
Now that’s not one of our five questions for transforming your local church, but it IS a question that will determine much about question four–How will we help people find a place to serve?
If you’re just joining us, we’ve been walking through the five questions every local church needs to be asking to bring new energy and life to their congregation. While we’re currently addressing that fourth question, let’s quickly glance back at where we’ve been.
Our first question—How do we engage new people?—helped us see the critical need to develop specific strategic steps for connecting with people throughout our community. There simply can be no new day at your church without some new life!
Our second question occupied us for several blogs—How will we treat them when they walk through our doors? As we said, it would be tragic to work hard to connect with someone only to drop the ball when they visited our church. Effective hospitality and assimilation strategies are some of the most critical elements of a church health plan.
Next, we tackled–How will we teach them how to follow Jesus? Here, we looked at both the content and the settings where discipleship teaching is delivered. You must have a plan for people to engage, and then, of course, you’ll need to encourage them to engage that plan.
When we ask our current question–“How will we help them find a place to serve?–we have already considered helping people find their gifts and find a place to use them. We’ve also discussed training and evaluation strategies that can help people find real success and satisfaction in their ministry efforts. But, before we leave this important question, my secondary query needs addressing. What is it like to be on your team?
Now, I’m not going to weary you with stories of bad ministry experiences. Let’s just acknowledge that many of our people have had some of those through the years. Instead, consider what it would be like if everyone wanted to be on your team. How much fun would that be?
I’ve seen that happen. In fact, I watched it unfold in a church I once pastored. Her name is Stephanie and she was (still is, I believe) the nursery director for that congregation. Now, first understand that a baby boom had struck that once small congregation such that up to 15% of Sunday’s attendance could often be found in Stephanie’s little group of sub-3 year olds. Seriously, as pastor I did 230 baby dedications in less than ten years (and only 30 funerals). During that span we went from a three-baby nursery to dozens packing the crib room in each of our three services. We were “Babies R Us” before “Toys R Us” got the idea.
How do you manage all that? You need to meet Stephanie…
Somehow, this young mom had an army of women (and men) that couldn’t wait to be a part of her team. Though each service required more nursery workers than the entire Sunday school staffs of most churches, Stephanie seemed to always have enough–actually, more than enough.
How? everyone wanted to be on Stephanie’s team! You see, she invested in her team. If you were a member of Stephanie’s nursery crew, she valued you, made sure you had what you needed to succeed, and helped you grow along the way. While the “cool” people in a church usually want to be youth sponsors (and we had those cool people too), there was a whole different level of “want to” when it came to Stephanie’s team. I’m not saying that every woman in our church couldn’t wait to spend 90 minutes calming crying babies, but after a few experiences in Stephanie’s room, reluctance almost always turned to enthusiastic willingness. I even saw several middle-aged men join her team! These guys, many of them new grandpas, had reached a place in their journeys where holding babies and playing Legos with toddlers was reinvigorating their lives. I teased that I would get them t-shirts that said, “Real Men Work Nursery.” (Frankly, I wanted to join them, but I usually had preaching responsibilities in the other room.)
You see, there’s no shortage of workers in a local church. Sometimes there IS a shortage of willing ones. When you spot an excited team that loves working together and knows their making a major difference, recruiting gets a whole lot easier. And all that happened because an excellent leader made investing in her team her greatest priority. I’ve never felt it to be an exaggeration when I say that everyone wanted to be on Stephanie’s team.
How can you do that? Build a strategy for such investment. Maybe you could read a book together and learn from its principles. Buy a copy for everyone, at least the first time, and you’ll see it’s worth the initial investment. Why not plan a cookout just for your team? You can email articles you find that can enhance their moments of serving. Just send random “I appreciate you” texts, especially after a big effort. Always keep the joy and value of your ministry effort in front of those leaders. It’s the “why” that keeps all of us going.
When people begin to love being on your team, you’ll find an extraordinary momentum you may have never thought possible. Give your best to them as they give their best for you and you’ll help them experience giving their best for Jesus in a whole new way.