To have an effective team you need a healthy community.
In my years of ministry I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some pretty amazing teams. It’s a beautiful thing when you get to work shoulder to shoulder with a good team to communicate the good news of Jesus well. But leading in team environments can get messy, especially in church communications.
Your team community needs to be healthy to lead your church well.
If there’s failure amongst your team to lead in a healthy way, your church and kingdom-effectiveness will suffer. You can stay functional for a while with an unhealthy team. But eventually the team will break down.
How do you keep your team not just functional, but healthy and thriving?
I don’t have all the answers, but there are a five things I’ve seen lead to a healthy community on a team. Each one is dependent on the preceding item, so don’t skip to the bottom on this one.
1. Share Core Values
Your team needs to establish and firmly hold to a set of core values. I’m not talking “We love Jesus” kind of values, but values like “My ministry is not more important than all of your ministries.” Be clear. Be concise.
If you have clear values, your will have clear expectations. With defined expectations, all your processes and conversations will become more cohesive because you will have these values to frame them around. When someone succeeds you can refer to the values they upheld. When someone fails you can correct them with the values they upheld. Create shared core values, then keep them.
2. Build Trust
Once you have agreed on some core values, you can then build trust around them. If trust amongst your team is lost it will only be a matter of time before your core values break down and fails. Have the honest conversations and talk through potential areas of broken trust around your core values.
You have to trust that your team has the best intention for you and wants you to succeed. And your team has to trust that you will honor your core values and support them. You’re in this together, but if you don’t trust each other your team will break down.
Speak with love. Support your teammate’s ministry. Have each other’s backs. Show that you are trustworthy. Build trust.
3. Speak With Candor
If you have shared core values, and have built trust, then you need to be able to speak with candor.
Do not hint. Do not guess. Speak clearly. Be restorative in your candor. Otherwise you may find eventually you have no team around you.
Speaking with candor is tied to trust. You need to be able to trust that there is not a barb hiding behind what your teammate just said to you. You need to be able to know that you can share everything in your mind with your team without negative repercussions. Unspoken hurt and expectation will kill your team. So speak with candor.
4. Operate In Grace
Candor and trust only work if there is grace.
Operating in grace doesn’t mean your team can get away with anything they want. But it does mean when there is a failure in the team you won’t crucify them. Instead, you hold them to the core values, and come alongside them to help bring them back up to the values.
5. Have Fun
For Pete’s sake ministry should be fun! If you find that you can’t laugh with your team there is likely something you need to revisit in the four points above this one. But if you can laugh with your team and enjoy a staff day away, or share a meal together, you will build your team up for success.
There is a lot more nuance to leading well in community. But if you can implement these steps, you’ll find your team will begin to move from simply being functional to being healthy. Then you’ll see what it’s like when your ministry really begins to thrive.