Whenever two or three are gathered together, there is possible friction. And that is as true on church staffs (or volunteer teams) as it is at the factory down the street or the faculty at the college or the sports teams who fight on the practice field.
What shall we do as leaders to build strong teams of people who love each other in the best way possible?
And is the senior leader of two or twenty the one responsible? And when do we start if we have allowed some things to slide, some silos to be erected, some feelings to be frozen?
The three of us worry about these issues a lot—okay, pray too. But we also know certain habits and goals are very helpful. May we share some ideas and cautions, please?
Based on a combined 110 years of church pastoring, and some mishaps and successes!
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
What are the best things church staffs do together?
• Pray, worship, play, and dream!
• Pray as a team and share your hearts with each other.
• Celebrate your wins! Often, we just keep planning for the next event and do not take time to celebrate
the changed lives.
• Do training and teaching times together so you can be sharpened by each other.
• Do some outings together away from ministry to refresh and refuel.
• Laugh, pray, worship, solve, love, work together, unite behind a common purpose—no question, and in
whatever order of need. Clearly someone should not pretend to lead a staff if he or she does not have
these goals, and someone should not join a staff if they would rather work alone and do their own
thing. What you sign up for when you join a church staff is a team, not a solo part in a concert.
• I have coached some staff who did very little together, never ate together or relaxed together or
laughed together. In such cases discord and hurt will come, just as surely as they would for a sports
team that did not honor their coach and have the same goals and help each other in practice.
• Pastoral staff members are just as human as factory staff workers, and the secrets to teamwork and a
joyful spirit at the task are not hidden. The vision or game plan for the church may not be as obvious as
that for a football team, to score more points. But it must be defined. Every time I have done a
workshop about teamwork and asked the question about what 11 guys should do first before they get
ready for a big football game, the answer is always that they should select a coach or captain. Every
team needs a leader, and one of the leaders’ main responsibilities is to build teamwork.
• Teamwork involves covering for each other, confronting each other, expressing proper love and
appreciation. It is spelled over time by honesty, joy times, thinking out loud about challenges, praying
together, singing to our Lord, and pulling hard so everyone is helping to move the ball.
• It seems as practical as having lunches together regularly, praying out loud together in meaningful
times, knowing what the policies are and when to push back or ask questions. It seems as important as
worshipping together on Sunday mornings or weekends as much as possible with the rest of the
church, and making suggestions rather than keeping secret criticisms, all the while keeping unity work
up to date.
Why is staff spirit so important as long as they get their work done?
• It’s a hard job, with long hours, and staff are rarely compensated at the level they would be in the
• Everybody says work environment is the main reason people come and stay at a job, so you want that
to be a healthy place.
• People thrive in a healthy environment.
• Many times, I have heard that our staff wants to contribute to the team and be part of a team.
Belonging is vital. Word done in isolation divides and builds an entitlement spirit.
• You can go faster alone but farther together. Teamwork makes the dream work!
• Take your team through book studies together and develop a theology of fun!
• Because church is not an individual sport. Overall, it is a team task and at the staff level it is especially
to be modeled to the rest of the church and community. People know when pastors and others on staff
do not get along well. They sense it. It hurts.
• No one thinks every day should be a jolly day at work, but is should not be a drudgery to serve
together. Some people prove to be poison to team spirit, and they must not be allowed to continue
that. Most of us who lead staffs would say we often wait too long to deal with poison.
• Staff unity and spirit is a model for the rest of the church. It sets the pace for unity and servanthood in
the church body.
What are the worst bad habits church staffs fall into?
• No rest, too busy, silo-ing, entitlement.
• Lack of accountability, loss of vision, relying on the past to produce in the future.
• Removing God from the plans and relying only on man, forming cliques, tardiness and laziness.
• Then there is an entitlement spirit as years of seniority increase, or the lack of passion for lost people
and the mission of Jesus.
• Doing their work selfishly, in silos from other staff members, and thinking that if they put in their 40
hours or whatever amount they got from Andy Stanley or someone else, they can go home and do
something else. Nonsense.
• Forgetting this all started with love for and trust in Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him. We easily start to
think it may be about us.
• Thinking it is just a job. You know, like 9 to 5 or five days a week no more… or, Get my work done and
go home… or, Why would anyone ask that of me!… or, I’m not sure I care how that person responds…
Instead of many verses we all know about being in Christ and His love and being a servant.
Pastorpedia is a resource provided to you by Momentum Ministry Partners. Please contact us at email@example.com or 574.267.6622 if we may be of any help to you or your ministry!
Jeff Bogue, Lead Pastor of Grace Church, and also, President of Momentum Ministry Partners; Jim Brown, Lead Pastor of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by Momentum Ministry Partners. Visit our website for more resources and to learn more about how we aim to partner with the local church.