Ever wonder if anyone is listening to what you're saying?
A pastor and poet from the turn of the 16th into the 17th centuryJohn Donnepreached a sermon that people have been listening to (whether they realize it or not) for the past four centuries. His sermon contained one sentence that has been quoted and re-quoted by generations of preachers, politicians, songwriters and novelists.
"No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
John Donne, Meditation XVII
English clergyman & poet (1572 - 1631)
Novelist Ernest Hemingway created a tidy legacy borrowing the phrase "for whom the bell tolls." President Kennedy proclaimed every "man's death diminishes me, for I am involved with Mankind." Gospel singers tell us that "no man is an island," and that's the piece I'm going to borrow here.
No man or woman can be an island, particularly if you're planning to lead your church through a building campaign. Managing the growth and change of your congregation takes healthy, committed internal and external teams. The Bible says that with men and women, some things are impossible, but with God all things are possible. That's so true. And to build on that theme, it's impossible for one person alone to manage and lead the growth of a congregation. It takes a team working under God's inspiration and leadership.
As you know, congregations are delicately balanced human systems full of impassioned hopes, dreams, values and volunteers. God designs these volunteers to work as a body, with all the parts connected, so it is only as a teamand as groups of teamsthat churches grow and accomplish their missions.
At Morris Architects' Church Design Studio, we recognize several significant truths about teams and teamwork.
Number 1: Healthy, balanced teams that both share vision and communicate vision accomplish extraordinary results.
As your church grows, one of your roles as the leader is to assemble healthy, balanced teams that plan for new and/or expanded facilities. Your internal team should include trustworthy stewards and a representative cross-section of the congregation. As this team comes to share a common vision for your future, and spends time communicating this common vision, the larger congregation will begin to own the vision for itself. The congregation's involvement and agreement with a building campaign is crucial for its success.
Number 2: Before you design concepts or start fund-raising, build internal and external teams.
Often, strong leaders know what the next steps should be. They see the vision, they understand what to do next, and they are eager to start. Wise leaders take the time to build consensus among the other leaders and members of the congregationno matter if that slows or even changes the physical building process.
A healthy internal team is described above in #1trusted people representing the diverse spectrum of the congregation. Their job is to serve as two-way walkie-talkiesthey circulate among the people, gather facts and needs, communicate information to the other team members, and then communicate back again to the congregation. They maintain constant feedback loops that disseminate helpful information and cement cohesive vision.
Healthy external teams are the trusted professionals beginning the process of analyzing the information from your internal team and giving advice and counsel. By putting both sets of teams in motion as early as possible, church leaders facilitate a shared sense of discernment about what God is saying and how He is leading your growth.
Number 3: Internal teams build consensus and empower your congregation to become enthusiastic advocates and co-creators of the future.
An internal team becomes the key engine of change among your congregation. By listening and encouraging shared dreams and innovation, the internal team members help the congregation find its voice during your growth. They articulate the needs of each slice of your congregationfrom young to old, from musicians to accountants to intercessors.
Internal teams, sometimes called building committees or capitol campaign members, ideally will incorporate three kinds of people:
Trusted leaders and influencers who are committed to the mission and vision of the church and who represent the various constituencies in the congregation;
People whose professional background gives them insight into the process of renovating and/or building a new facility;
"Change leaders" people who have helped facilitate change and growth processes in their professional or church lives.
This internal team should not be overly largewe recommend choosing a group of fewer than ten people. Additionally, this is a great opportunity to forge lasting relationships between the different groups in your church. People who are committed to the church's mission, have integrity with the congregation, and are capable of articulating information clearly can become powerful advocates for growth and change.
Number 4: External teams include architects, acousticians, financiers, engineers and other building and church growth experts.
Professional church growth and facilities consultants can analyze your needs and provide feedback about the kinds of options available for your congregation. These outside experts are able to bring two important things to the task: (a) a fresh perspective on your situation, and (b) the best of their own experience and knowledge. Ultimately, you make the final decisions based on God's leadership and the wisest counsel provided.
Number 5: External team members help you determine what to buildand what not to build.
Knowing what not to build is just as important as discerning what you will build. The valuable feedback from your external team helps trouble-shoot challenges and understand all the pieces of the puzzle. Additionally, they become valuable communication partners with your internal team and congregation. Ideally, an external team member becomes the central advocate moving in all three circlescoordinating information with your external team, listening and communicating with your internal team, and then delivering information to your congregation.
Team building reflects the profound biblical principle of the local congregation being a "body"with all the members having unique, differentiated and important parts. Just as a church needs the diversity of the members of the body to be effective, a church needs a diverse and united team to lead the change accompanying growth. And we're not designed to be islands, entire and isolated unto ourselveswe're designed to live and function with the teamwork of a community united to reach common goals.