Anything that flourishes, from our garden to our marriage, requires careful attention, pruning, and opportunities for growth.
If you are interested in learning more about team development for houses of worship, check out the following session, "Speaking One Language: The Importance of a Unified Voice," slated for the WFX Conference & Expo on November 14 in Orlando.
The same thing is true of our teams.
When we ask what our teams need to continue to grow and develop, we see three critical principles that we must keep in mind.
Give Them A Compelling Vision
Think of the most difficult thing you’ve ever achieved. Perhaps it was getting that master’s degree, or the marathon you ran, or the shed you built out back. It could even be something simpler, like keeping your house clean or going out on that date with your spouse.
Whatever it was you wanted to accomplish, you saw a future in mind. As author Stephen Covey puts it, you “started with the end in mind.” This is what a vision looks like - assessing your current reality and the factors you can control and creating an achievable future from that reality.
As Scripture says, where there is no vision or revelation, the people perish.
We all, including our teams, need a vision, and something to work toward.
The people we usually admire most saw a vision for the future, and then they went out and created it. If we can live with that same mindset in our churches, I believe we will have some dynamic, highly motivated teams, whether they are staff or volunteer.
Your vision may be to create an interactive projection display in the lobby that displays unreached people groups around the world, or it could even be as practical as creating a Sunday morning service - with no audio technical difficulties.
No matter your vision, you must answer the questions “what” and “why.” What are we trying to achieve and why are we doing it? For example, “I’m going to run a marathon, because I want to inspire my children.”
Lastly, we must determine how we’re going to measure success. You can’t move what you don’t measure. Once we answer these questions, we’re ready to move onto the “how” - our strategy.
Give Them an Understandable Strategy
As good as our vision may be, and as enticing as it is, it is impossible to achieve without a strategy. Or, put more simply, a plan to get from point A to point B.
If your vision is to develop a full-fledged video team, your goal may be to recruit 12 new production volunteers. Your strategy is what you use to achieve that goal. In order to achieve this, you may need to host an after-church lunch or create a compelling promo video.
Maybe your vision is to engage with your community on Instagram, and your goal is to gain 500 followers over the course of the next year. From there, you develop a strategy that involves content marketing, giveaways, and user-generated content.
No matter what your strategy is, it’s critical that everyone on your team understand the part they play in accomplishing the vision, that you’ve set out for them. A camera operator on a Sunday needs to know that they are a critical part of the strategy to accomplish the vision - to create a more engaging experience through video, for example.
Strategy is the road that gets you to your vision.
Without knowing what road we’re on, we’re all just sitting there, burning fuel, spinning our tires. At the end of the day, we’ll leave feeling like we haven’t contributed to anything or moved the organization forward at all.
It’s also worth considering that you may have even met your original vision, so you have some strategy holdover.
While you were just starting out, you were trying to build your volunteer pool. So, you took it upon yourself to double check every slide and lighting cue. Now, your church is five years old, and the time has come for your original pool to step into some positions of leadership. In this case, your vision and strategy shifts - instead of double checking their work each Sunday, you’ve given them the opportunity to do the same for the people coming up behind them - to train, guide, and teach. Just as you did for them.
Give Them the Tools They Need
Lastly, we can’t expect our team to move down that road without having the right tools - gas in the tank and a knowledge of how to drive, so to speak.
First, consider your training process. What does it look like when you “on-board” a new volunteer or staff member? How do you ensure that they are not only capable of pressing the right buttons, but also are understand your vision and your strategy? People like to be a part of something larger than themselves, along with not just being asked to be “keyboard monkeys.”
Beyond that, what are you doing above and beyond, to continue to expose them to your vision? What conferences are you attending, what books are you reading? All these things can serve to help communicate your vision and to encourage your team to continue to grow and think outside of the box, as to how they can help accomplish it.
Of course, there’s the simple steps you can take to keep them motivated, and to keep the fuel in their tank, such as words of affirmation and encouragement, as well as discipleship and mentorship.
Simple hand-written letters and $5 coffee shop gift cards - all these things serve to help them feel connected, as a part of the team, on a level deeper than just what they do. If you haven’t in a while, consider a new way that you can affirm or encourage your team this week.
Resources and tools look different for every team in every context.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
However, I do know this - no matter the team, the size, the church, or the location, we all need three things, if we are going to continue to develop and grow our teams: a compelling vision, a clear strategy, and the tools to accomplish it.
With those in place, I believe that our teams will continue to reach new heights that we never knew before.