If great teamwork holds the key to a great future, how does one go about creating the ideal team? Why is it that the team we have varies greatly from the team we want!
All of us have made errors in team creation. At times we’ve panicked in a sincere desire to avoid being seen as a one man band. At other times, our strong desire to see the power of synergy and diversity at work has caused us to unite newcomers to the team far too quickly. All of us want quick growth and at times have cut corners to quickly create a great team only to regret the decision thereafter. The result is often a divided team of average players instead of a great team of great players.
In His remit to choose just twelve team members, Jesus firstly selected two sets of brothers. In doing so, He used up four out of twelve precious spaces, which could have included by a decent representative from Hebron and a well liked man of the people from Jerusalem. He also selected four fishermen which is slightly over the top when you consider only twelve spaces available and all of the other essential professions such as tinker, tailor, butler and baker. Is it true that Matthew also came from the northern parts of the country? Is it true that Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew? Can it be right to favouritise Bethsaida! Jesus obviously cut against the grain of political correctness and rejected the pressure of representing old and young, black and white and pharmacist and farmer.
Jesus was on course, though, to building the most important team in history. In church team creation we have often veered towards people with a ‘deep’ understanding of God’s word over people who are shallow yet incredibly enthusiastic. Is a slightly jaded ex Bible college teacher more of an advantage to a team than a truly excited twenty year old? Why do we think that width of experience that comes through age is any more helpful to a team than people who are short in the tooth, got saved three years ago, and never set foot in any other church ever?
The creation of great teams is never instantaneous. I have outlined four types of teams that are all God ordained but not all great. Each has its strengths though and each leads to the next type of team which eventually leads to the possession of a great team.
Often, in coming into a new ministry of opportunities, we are given the team that the previous leader or minister had developed. Sadly the team gradually becomes a dissipating team. The wheels start falling off! The providential purpose of a borrowed team is twofold – firstly it gives the leader a small clearing to plan out what he or she really wants from the new endeavour. It gives a soft start that can help create the superior strategy. Secondly, it gives the leader a chance to have their faith in their God given call a thorough work out. When the team begins to move to other pastures and the leader is left holding the baby, heaven waits to overload the leader with a significant sense of personal destiny. Yes, history has always been changed by individuals first, teams second individuals who believe that they’re born to change their world.
It was Moses who stood in front of the world’s greatest leader and said ‘Let my people go.’ It was Gideon who rose from the winepress to raise an army that fought a ludicrous, yet holy, fight. Jonah single-handedly brought revival to Ninevah. And I’ve made no mention of Martin Luther, Wycliffe and Tyndale. The over-riding sense of personal destiny is essential to do outstanding things for God. The team always becomes like its leader. A confident leader convinced of his call always creates a confident team convinced of their call. You need a dissipating team!
These are the teams you get for quick assembly and a sure start but don’t place too much weight on them. They could be with you for only a limited time. Is their heart as good as their demure suggests or is there a major fault line between character and persona? Often when you first start a new project, you need to take on some people at face value. Their history is erratic but their desire is positive and you, the leader, have definitely got faith that it’s a new day in God. The usual mistake leaders make, though, is to put these ‘mystery people’ into permanent positions that carry some real weight. Scaffold people are just that – scaffold only.
Unless you know their heart, you need to use them only for projects that have a start date and a finish date. Paul told Timothy to entrust what he had to ‘reliable men’ (2 Timothy 2:2). That always comes down to people with a good track record. In order to juxtapose a ‘fresh start in faith’ with ‘good track record’, it’s vital that you only involve these people in short term projects, not long term construction. For example, scaffold teams can be assembled for the establishing of a community centre and then dismantled upon completion. Scaffold teams can work the car park rota, but for the next three months only. When true hearts are revealed you can either move them from being ‘sections of scaffolding’ to ‘stone in the temple’, or, if their hearts prove bad, back to the sidelines. Always remember, it is easy to put someone in a position, but really hard to take them out of that position unless it’s pre-arranged through a time limit or project completion.
Over half of everyone who says goodbye to a local church were once totally involved in the life of that church. They often leave because they feel let down by the leadership that promised them ‘the earth’ but failed to deliver when the leadership realised the true state of their heart. The leadership promoted them beyond their heart capacity and allowed them to operate for too long outside of the bounds of their personal relationship with Christ.
Their eventual departure from the local church is often like a coat hook that suddenly shears off from the wall with no prior signs of weakness. It’s not a rule (but it’s 90% true) when someone repeatedly tells you that they’re right behind you, love the vision, think you’re
the best, can’t wait for next Sunday, – they’re nowhere near ready to be used for the weight bearing construction work of the Kingdom but only for the light weight assistance of scaffolding. They’ve just given you the glimpse you needed to see of a heart that’s recently questioned you, the vision, the service and all that goes on. Why tell the pastor you’re right behind him when it’s obvious?
Scaffold teams are there to give you a good start only. Often after a good start, a lot of the ‘to do list’ is again placed squarely back in the hands of the leader. Some scaffold will remain to become significant load bearers and some will move onto the next church. Once hearts are revealed, both good and bad, few will remain available to be re-assembled as scaffolding for the next project. The key scripture reference at this time just has to be Philippians 1:6 ‘God started it, God will complete it!’ Good reliable people are right now being created and called to be a part of the greatest team on earth. That’s your team. Believe it! It’s a promise that comes by faith!
Finally good hearted, proven and happy people! It’s what you’ve been looking for. One heart, one vision, one motive – to do our best for each other and for the King! They love you and want to please Jesus. It’s not just functional, it’s family. They’ll do anything at any time. This is the foundation that God builds His church on – true servants of the house that have become true sons of the house. No hirelings here. Sacrifice and surrender are the definitive bedrock.
There is, however, a glitch. It comes to light when you realise that you not only need right character but also right gifting to get the job done.
Here’s the cruncher, are you more committed to the vision of the house or to the people who are currently in the house? Isn’t it the role of a ‘foundational’ team leader not just to attempt to get the job done, but to do a job inside every team member to find the ‘divine spark’ inside them, disciple them, and then re-position them into places where their real gifting shines. It’s going to slow you down, but in the end, for the Kingdom as a whole, it will speed things up – absolutely speed things up.
This is character development time for the leader. Inside all of us is a pragmatist. We just want to see the vision arise yet God has given us good but under-developed people. Will you love the team as much as you love the vision?
Five Star Team
Great teams are not just a God send! Because you’ve sown into the lives of good hearted people, God allows you to reap either from your own sowing or from somebody else’s sowing. Darlene Zschech once said that the worship team at Hillsong Church in Sydney is selected in the light of how talented each person is. When character is in abundance we can lift our vision off the foundation of the building and onto the construction of the building that uses different materials with different properties for different usages for effective results. Talent and gifting creates the difference between average and brilliant. It’s time to believe beyond the foundation of character so that we can add to the strong axe handle a sharp cutting edge.
As Ecclesiastes suggests, when a great team is assembled, less energy is needed by the leader to sustain the team. It’s both a happy time for the leader as well as a crucial time. If, by the blessing of God you find you have a great team of great players for the great vision that our great God has given, it must be time to expand your field of dreams. It’s time to use up the energy saved by breaking open new territory for the King.
With new territory comes the necessity for new teams. It’s here that the cycle begins again. God may give you a borrowed team, then a scaffold team, then a foundational team, then finally a great team.