Why Build a Team?

Steve Petty
Written by Steve Petty

Why Build a Team?

A very frustrated pastor once confided in me about his congregation, “These people don’t know how to run the church.  If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.”  He was trying to explain why with a church of only about 30 active people he was overworked and underpaid.  In truth, he had no idea how to build a team; and if he had built a team, he wouldn’t have known how to lead it.  There were many things he needed to learn.  First, I had to convince him that he would be able to get more things done every week if he began to put together a team to work with him.  There are in fact several key reasons why building a team is critical to building your church.

Jesus did it!

Jesus began his ministry as simple as possible, he went to the desert alone.  The first thing Jesus did after returning from his time of temptation was to build a team.  It is as if, having faced the Devil, even though he prevailed, he decided he didn’t want to do that alone again — better to have a team of people around him.  No matter which gospel you read, Jesus begins his public ministry by inviting Andrew, Peter, James and John to come along for the ride.  If they liked fishing, he invited them to do some major league fishing.  He is even very clear about the process, “I will teach you…”.

Eventually, Jesus topped out at twelve key men, a few additional support positions, and a small retinue of followers.  He led them, he taught them, he coached them, he sent them out, he chided them, he scolded them, he blessed them and he commissioned them.  They were not a perfect team.  Jesus probably sounded a bit like my frustrated pastor friend at times. I can imagine him complaining to the Archangel Gabriel after the crucifixion, “One betrayed me, one denied me, all of them fell asleep on me and then they ran away.”

But even after that poor performance, he commissioned them and left the church in their hands.  People will fail you.  Keep believing in them and they just might change the world.  Look what they did for Jesus.

It gets more done

When geese fly in formation they can cover greater distances and do it more efficiently.  The draft from the bird in front creates additional lift for the birds following in formation.  Each bird in the line is helping to lift the birds that follow.  Some people estimate the efficiency of the flock in formation is increased by as much 71%.

A good team increases the energy, cooperation, and efficiency of the whole.  Each team member benefits from the efforts of the whole team.  The success of one person, or one area, improves the chances of success of other people and other areas.  Finding things that worked for one may prove effective for others.  Members may find areas where they can cooperate to the benefit of both.

More ministry is accomplished in less time.  Yes, it will take some time in a meeting to coordinate everything.  But having done that the energy generated by a well running team will be far greater than one person trying to do it all themselves.

An excellent team ends up multiplying its energy and effectiveness several times over and accomplishes far more good for the church.

It’s much more fun!

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  Where is the joy of one person hugging?  How much fun is it to share your gifts with yourself?

The old adage is “Misery loves company.”  But the truth is “Joy loves company even more!”  We just spent way too much of our summer watching the Rio Olympics; we watched lots of people win and lose.  When a team won, did you notice the level of joy was significantly higher!  When an individual won an individual event, what was the first thing they did (right after catching their breath and getting back on their feet)?  They looked into the stands for a familiar face, someone with whom they could share the joy.  The saddest person on the field was someone who got a flag draped over their shoulders, a few handshakes, but could find no family, no team there to share their joy.  They looked lost.  Yes, it was a great victory, one for which they had worked incredibly hard for a long time, but now they wanted to share it with the people who supported them through all of that.

It is much more fun to feel the power of a team around you and celebrate all the ups and downs with your team.

It’s much more creative.

Almost all the great inventions in the world have been accomplished by teams.  Sure Thomas Alva Edison gets credit for the light bulb, and over a thousand other inventions, but people what people forget is that he had over twenty people working on his team for several years before he perfected that tungsten vacuum bulb.  By himself, he never would have been able to test all the thousands of things that didn’t work.

When you have several creative committed people working on a problem they can significantly multiply their creativity.  One feeds off another, who inspires another, and the energy that fills the room is infectious.

The pastor who tries to invent, create, implement, and deliver everything by himself or herself is at a distinct disadvantage as compared to the person who is working with a team.

It is true that there is a place for the lone genius who writes, or paints, or sculpts all by himself / herself.  But careful examination reveals that these people are keen observers.  They get their ideas from bystanders, from nature, from previous works of genius.  They have a team feeding them that will not be credited.  Such people, however, are rare individuals.  They most likely could never lead a team, a church, or a few sheep, because their genius makes them extremely individualistic.

A team will multiply itself.

The joy and the creativity that flow from a team, which is working and playing well together, are very attractive ingredients.  People who observe this will want to become a part of it.  People on the outside looking in will want to be IN.

We all have a need to accomplish things with the time that God gives us in this life.  We can accomplish small things by ourselves or we can accomplish great things with our teams.  Given the choice, most people will want to be involved in those creative and happy teams.

You can just hear the voice of James Earl Jones saying, “This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

It’s not just baseball that attracts people.  It is the joy of being a part of the team, of being appreciated, respected, involved — of using the creative abilities God has given us to do something new and wonderful.

If you build a team that can learn to become the church, to love others as Jesus loves them, then it becomes a spiritual reality, a spiritual event, a living breathing life force.  People will most definitely come!

Next:  How do you pick a Team?

@ 2016 – Steve Petty