PREPARING THE SOIL:
FORMING, ALWAYS REFORMING
The book “Teams That Thrive” by Hartwig and Bird explores the findings of a huge research project looking at 1,026 leadership team members from 253 churches. Hartwig and Bird found that purpose trumps trust…
Trust is overrated. Team-building activities are largely a waste of time. Building relationships and cultivating trust is vastly overemphasized in teams and small groups. Now, I’m not saying trusting relationships are unimportant, just that they are overrated. We need to put more emphasis on building teams around purpose and mission, and less on building teams around trust and relationships… Trust by itself doesn’t translate into effective teamwork… An extensive body of literature indicates that when team members focus on accomplishing a clear, compelling, and consequential purpose, they will begin to experience productive teamwork and trusting relationships. Note the order now: first comes purpose, then comes trust… Commit yourself first to mission, and then, and only then, focus on the relationships and the trust required to accomplish it. Just as C. S. Lewis noted: put first things first and you’ll get both the first and the second things. – Ryan T. Hartwig. Burst: Bursting the Bubbles of 5 Teamwork Myths. (p. 7)
TEAMS WITHOUT PURPOSE:
- Get bogged down in tiny details.
- Members may be distracted or disengaged.
- Struggle to prioritise and delegate.
- Struggle to attract members.
- Fail to enlist the right members.
- May reach intractable conflict or fade away.
- Find it hard to form trust.
EXAMPLE OF A SIMPLE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Witta Pastoral Assistants:
1. Keep us centred on the Gospel and prayer in everything.
2. Pray for, support, and care for the pastor and his family.
3. Keep a caring overview of members’ welfare and needs.
4. Communicate with pastor about urgent needs in the congregation.
5. Set an example of Christian life (and confidentiality).
This is deliberately not a perfect example. It’s a humble three-person team from a small Aussie Lutheran team. It may not work for you or your context. But this team surveyed their landscape and worked together to be clear on what they were called to. Your team may come up with something different – and that would be good! Since working this out, the pastoral assistants know what they’re here for. They prayed, reflected, discovered and refined this – so the are truly invested in it. Now their work and meetings have clear purpose!
TEAMS WITH PURPOSE:
- Keep the main thing the main thing.
- Learn to set priorities (and deprioritise things too!).
- Know why they are doing what they are doing.
- Attract new team members.
- Are able to enlist the right people.
- Are able to trust because they are committed to the same ends.
PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR DISCOVERING AND DEFINING PURPOSE:
1. Remember teams members struggle to trust if they do not share common purpose.
2. Facilitate the team to simply and clearly define your purpose.
– Do it in a way that’s appropriate to your people.
– You could write a vision (a picture of the future you are working to)
– Or it might be just a simple statement of what you’re here for.
3. Revisit your purpose regularly.
– Start with it in some way.
– Have it stated on your meeting minutes.
– When conflict arises go back to your purpose!
4. When forming a team start with defining purpose.
– Spend good time on it.
– This time is never wasted.
5. Purpose is key to enlisting team members.
6. Consider permanent purposeful ‘rolling questions’ to keep your team on track.
– E.g. How have we reflected God’s grace in this meeting?
A QUICK STANDING MEETING
[ with one or two others – 3 mins ]
This is literally a ‘standing meeting!’
Stand together with one or two other people.
Each name one team you are a part of.
State its purpose in 10 words or less.
(Or state what you believe its purpose could be!)
Better leadership will be provided to a church when the leadership burden is shared by a diverse yet unified group of humble, competent leaders. – Hartwig & Bird. Teams That Thrive (p. 150).
- Just wants to fill vacancies and get ‘bums on seats.’
- Minimises the cost. E.g. “It’s an easy role; only one meeting a month!”
- Does not consider the team purpose or needs.
- Desperately takes whoever is left standing!
- Does not encourage commitment.
- Begins by recognising that the Holy Spirit naturally calls leaders all the time (inner call) and in enlistment processes we are discovering and noticing who God is already raising up (outer call).
- Identifies team members through reflection, discernment, prayer, prayer, and prayer.
- Specifically calls them.
- Recognises the cost of teamwork (discipleship).
- Is willing to sit with a ‘good vacancy’ rather than a ‘bad appointment’.
- Trusts that God will provide for the ministry we are called to.
How does your ministry source new team members?
Luke 10.2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore PRAY…”
EXAMPLE OF A PURPOSEFUL GOSPEL ENLISTMENT PROCESS:
- Begin with prayer and ask in the name of Jesus.
- Consider the task, the kind of people and skills needed.
- Pray over your list, community, sit with it for a time, and ask God to highlight people.
- Come back together to gather a list of people.
- Discuss them and seek to discern who is the right shape.
- Agree as a team on who to call.
- Approach them purposefully.
- When calling someone ensure you respect boundaries, that they can say ‘no’ and simply receive the call as an affirmation.
- Call them to an ‘important’ ministry (not just tasks).
- Be honest about the cost (don’t minimise it!).
- Continue to pray for them as they consider.
It is OK to explore someone’s call and decide they don’t fit. It is much better to discover that someone is not suitable for a team than to appoint people who do not share the team’s purpose or fit the culture.
CRITERIA FOR CALLING TEAM MEMBERS
- Gospel Centred (1 Cor 2:1-2)
- Character (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, Mark 10 etc.)
- Collaboration (Phil 2:2)
- Humility (Phil 2:3)
- Gifting (1 Cor 12)
- Ability to listen (James 1:19)
- Not just a ‘yes’ person! (Eph 4:15)
- Desire to grow (James 3:17)
- Diversity (1 Cor 12)
- Competence (Can they do things needed?)
- Commitment (Will they pay the cost? Those of low commitment hurt teams!)
- More important than skills.
- Do they understand your team’s values?
- Ask real questions, interview, find out if they fit before they’re on the team!
- Do they actually commit to the vision?
- Will they fit the team?
Beware of forming teams based simply on ‘representation’ (people to represent different groups). Although ‘representation’ is often necessary, specifically seek character, gifts, fit, collaboration, motivation.
PETER HONEY’S FIVE ROLES FOR TEAM FORMATION:
- LEADER – makes sure the objectives are clear and that everyone is involved and committed.
- CHALLENGER – questions ineffectiveness and takes the lead in pressing for improvements/results.
- DOER – the person who urges the team to get on with the task in hand.
- THINKER- produces carefully considered ideas and weighs up and improves ideas from others.
- SUPPORTER – plays the part of easing tensions and maintaining harmonious working relationships.
– Peter Honey quoted by Van Auken, Managing Christian Ministry In Teams.
Which roles do you prefer to operate in?
A SHORT STANDING STORY
[ in pairs – 4 mins ]
Tell someone about a time you were enlisted or called well.
“Whether or not one realizes it, the gospel is, by its very nature, intensely social.” – Mark Liederbach, The Convergent Church.
WHEN NEW TEAM MEMBERS START:
- Just jump straight into business.
- Assume they understand the processes.
- Expect them to work it all out as they go.
- Start new team members without praying for them.
- Neglect to share purpose, vision, values.
- Expect new team members to be initially useless, only sitting and learning.
- Welcome and introduce.
- Take time to build relationships (they need to belong).
- Team meal, retreat, GTKY, highs and lows, opening question, anything!
- Ensure the Gospel and prayer come first and last.
- Meet with them to properly orient them (processes, policies, structure, etc).
- Review the team’s purpose (do this regularly anyway).
- Form or review a team covenant and/or ground rules (e.g. in LTGs).
- Form team ground rules collaboratively (as a team) by asking something like ‘what is important for us so this can be safe for us and achieve the goal?’ Explore examples of group covenants.
- Set clear expectations (attendance, commitment, communication, collaboration).
- Discuss how communication on your team works (during and between meetings).
- Bless them and commission them in the name of Jesus (literally!).
- Trust them.
‘The strongest team is built when its members are committed to the task, to each other and to the team unit.’ – Steve Chalke, Making a Team Work.
“If the core leadership team are not healthy… the congregation will not be healthy…
Seven Practices Of An Emotionally Healthy Church:
1. Look beneath the Surface
2. Break the Power of the Past
3. Live in Brokenness and Vulnerability
4. Receive the Gift of Limits
5. Embrace Grieving and Loss
6. Make Incarnation Your Model for Loving Well
7. Slow Down to Lead with Integrity”
– Peter Scazzero. The Emotionally Healthy Church.
WHAT A TEAM NEEDS
[ alone or pairs – 10 mins ]
Pick a team you are currently on (or imagine one you would like to form).
Go through the list below of ‘what a team needs to work’ by Gordon Jones.
Which items on this list does your team have?
Which items on this list does your team need (and how could you get it?)
WHAT A TEAM NEEDS TO WORK:
– A sense of call from God.
– Clear mandate from the church/congregation.
– Is the leader clearly mandated to lead?
– Do members have knowledge and authority to get things done?
– Who is the leader or how is team leadership defined and shared?
2. CLEAR GOAL AND TASK DEFINITION
– What are our goals?
– What are the tasks necessary to achieve them?
– Who is responsible for what?
– Do the guidelines/goals provide enough freedom?
– Will tasks change?
– Can the team pivot to changed circumstances?
– From Gordon Jones. Teamwork (p. 191).
WATERING THE GARDEN
DWELLING IN THE WORD
RELATIONSHIPS & PRAYER
The Spirit of God is at work exercising influence among the whole people of God. This requires the capacity for every disciple to listen, discern, and learn more deeply what the Spirit is doing in her life and in the spheres of relationship in which he is embedded. Such capacity must be cultivated by leaders. – Dwight J. Zscheile, Cultivating the Spirit’s Leadership in Congregational Life (p. 91).
The organisation and distribution of our time will be better for having been rooted in prayer. The temptations which the working day brings with it will be overcome by this break-through to God. Decisions which our work demands will be simpler and easier when they are made, not in the fear of men, but solely in the presence of God. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together. (p.71).
“Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together. (p.78).
SOME KEY INSIGHTS ABOUT WATERING THE GARDEN:
- Good relationships are a function of the Gospel!
- The Holy Spirit is already showing the people of God what to do.
- Planning for the Body of Christ requires us to listen.
- Gospel Teams prioritise relationship formation and prayer.
- Gospel Teams grow in relationships through the Word.
- Gospel Teams can spend as much time in Prayer/Word as making decisions.
- If we start in the Gospel, our decision making is easier because we have begun open to the Spirit.
- Be attentive to the Gospel and aware of Spiritual warfare.
Dwelling in the Word is the practice of a repeated communal listening to a passage of Scripture over long periods of time in order to enable a Christian community to undertake its decisions and actions in line with the biblical meta-narrative [story of the world]. – Keifert & Ellison, Dwelling In The Word: A Pocket Handbook
Colossians 3:16-17. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Top teams paused and sought God’s leading more – if a decision is tough, pause for then minutes to all pray, then come back to share what you’re hearing. Or make this a normal part of decision-making process. – Hartwig & Bird. Teams That Thrive (p. 87).
DWELLING IN THE WORD.
Jesus put another parable before them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was throughout it all.”
DWELLING IN THE WORD IS LISTENING ON THREE LEVELS:
1. ON YOUR OWN – LISTEN QUIETLY TO THE WORD
Don’t force insight, don’t try to be profound. Turn off any achievement mindset and rest in the Word. It’s OK if you’re not hearing a lot today. Relax with it, enjoy the Word, let the Spirit speak. Let the Word roll around in your mind.
2. IN PAIRS – TAKE TURN TO LISTEN TO WHAT ANOTHER HEARD
For a moment put your attention on them. Give your partner the stage – focus on hearing. You might ask to clarify if you don’t quite understand. It’s OK to take notes if you worry about your memory.
3. IN THE GROUP – SHARE WHAT YOUR PARTNER HEARD.
Take turns for each pair to speak. Each member of a pair shares what the OTHER heard. Don’t interrupt or correct them if your partner struggles. Practice the humility of hearing someone speak for you. We now get to hear what they heard when we spoke!
In the whole process, relax and trust that the Holy Spirit is involved!
TENDING THE GARDEN:
Humility, Clear Roles,
Decision Processes, Communication.
The best leaders know when and how to get out of the way. – Pfeffer & Sutton. Hard Facts.
Romans 12:3. For by the grace given to me I remind you all not to think more highly of yourselves than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Let me tell you how I see myself as the author of a book on humility. I am a dominance-leaning, achievement-focussed, driven personality who has accidentally fallen in love with an intriguing ancient virtue. I told [my best friend] … I was involved in a research project… on the origins of humility. He quipped, “Well, John, at least you have objective distance from the subject!” … Humility is the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself. One of the earliest Greek texts on this topic, written about AD60 to the Roman colony of Philippi, puts it perfectly: “In a humble frame of mind regard one another as if better than yourselves…” Humility is more about how I treat others than how I think about myself. – John Dickson, Humility (pp.11,24-25)
Great leaders are humble enough to aspire to being the dumbest person on the team. – Jim Collins, Good to Great.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (p. 126).
FIVE QUESTIONS TO DECIDE WHETHER YOU CAN OPERATE AS A TEAM:
- Can we keep our egos in check?
- Are we capable of admitting to mistakes, weaknesses, or insufficient knowledge?
- Can we speak up openly when we disagree?
- Will we confront behavioural problems directly?
- Can we put the success of the team or organization over our own?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is ‘probably not,’ then a group… should think twice about declaring themselves a team. – Patrick Lencioni, The Trouble with Teamwork.
QUESTIONS ABOUT CLEAR ROLES:
- Do I know why I am in the team?
- Do I know why I am in this meeting?
- Do I have a role or job description?
- Does what I do on the team match the description?
- How would I state my role on the team?
- Would others describe it the same way?
- How is my role growing?
In successful teams, members contribute in two dimensions: in their functional role (their job) and in their team role (style of interacting). Both are important. Most members can, and often do, fit more than one team role, and it is possible for a person to develop into some roles that are not his first choice, so long as they are compatible with his personality. Success in a team depends on having the right people in each functional role and also correctly identifying their team roles – and applying this knowledge. – Jones, Gordon. Teamwork (pp. 100-101).
THE NINE BELBIN TEAM ROLES:
Coordinator, Shaper, Plant
Monitor Evaluator, Resource Investigator, Team Worker
Implementer, Complete-Finisher, Specialist
Look at the team roles (or go to the webpage above for a full description).
Which of these might you be? Can you think of people that might fit some?
MYERS BRIGGS SIXTEEN PERSONALITY TYPES
Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI)
Extravert (E) – Introvert (I)
Sensing (S) – Intuitive (N)
Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
A good version and information: www.practicalpie.com/myers-briggs-type-indicator/
Fastest (least reliable) MBTI test ever: www.dynomight.net/mbti
16 PERSONALITY FRAMEWORK
Built on the MBTI framework…
ANALYSTS: architect, logician, commander, debater
DIPLOMATS: advocate, mediator, protagonist, campaigner,
SENTINEL: logistician, defender, executive, consul
EXPLORERS: virtuoso, adventurer, entrepreneur, entertainer
A QUICK MYERS BRIGGS
[ alone then share – 10 minutes ]
Do you know your MBTI type?
Do a 2 minute MBTI here: www.dynomight.net/mbti
Chart your profile at: www.16personalities.com/personality-types
Share them with someone and have a good laugh!
IF YOU HATE SUCH SURVEYS, INSTEAD REFLECT ON OR DISCUSS:
– What are your preferred team roles?
– Why do you feel these sorts of roles suit you?
– What team roles sap your energy and enthusiasm?
– What sorts of team roles have you never played?
You can make a bad decision with a good process, but you can never make a good decision with a bad process!
Once a team has a clear purpose (why it’s together and where it’s going), it must have a process or means to get there. The process should include problem-solving tools, planning techniques, regular meetings, meeting agendas and minutes, and accepted ways of dealing with problems. – Wellins, Byham & Wilson. Empowered Teams: Creating Self-Directed Work Groups That Improve Quality, Productivity, and Participation.
GOOD TEAM DECISION PROCESSES:
- Are clear and simple.
- Do not involve secrecy or hidden elements.
- Are understandable to everyone on the team.
- Include everyone on the team.
- Involve every member’s voice.
- Inspire confidence.
- May poll the room but rarely (if ever) require voting.
- Often take more time than bad decisions.
Unilateral decisions are quick to make but slow to implement. Decisions derived from team participation and consensus take longer to make but are backed up by greater cooperation and commitment. – Phil Van Auken, Managing Christian Ministry In Teams
I need the help of people I trust, and I need the help of The Helper, God’s Spirit within me (see John 14:26). One way we have attempted to do this in our structure has been to remove the word vote from our lead team. We believe that if God has assembled our team – and we think he has – then God will work within each of us to lead us to a unanimous decision. We are a large, intergenerational church and I don’t expect everyone in our church to agree with every decision, but we certainly should have consensus among our leadership team. – Ron Edmonson: www.ronedmonson.com
STRETCH AND TALK!
[ with one or two others – 5 mins ]
Share one good decision you have made with a team.
Share one poor decision you have made with a team.
What was different in the decision-making process?