Team Development: The "Yes, And" of Ministry

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

NOTE: The first segment of this article ran on the Worship Tech Director website on Friday, June 16, 2017: "The Team Jesus Template, Part I"

Once the foundational elements of ministry are in place Bible study, small group relations, a clear mission, and feedback commitment the most unpredictable part of teamwork begins: Working together.

Feedback has merit. However, the manner it is expressed is another kettle.

Hard as it may be to grasp, teamwork among Christ-followers can be most challenging. As more than one church leader has expressed, "Ministry wouldn't be bad if it wasn't for the people."

For people to move forward in ministry, leaders must study how Jesus led. A key part of Jesus leading was his communication process of bringing differing parties into agreement. The Team Jesus Template offers some steps and scriptures to study.

4. Embrace “Yes, And"

Feedback has merit. However, the manner it is expressed is another kettle. In fact, how team members speak to each other in general particularly leaders to staffers can negate even the most insightful report or encouraging review.

Two words, "Yes, And," allow for creativity and disagreement without dismissing ideas, for it allows team members to be included and heard. "Yes, And" are words of grace.

"Yes, And" is a theater technique that is the basis of the improvisational style of performance seen on NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live." Its practitioners and students have included actors Bill Murray, Robin Williams and Tina Fey. In effect, "Yes, And" means, "Yes, I hear what you say, and here is what I wish to add." This perspective is contrary to "Yes, But" a habit of quashing ideas, often before they've been uttered, because of past failures or relationships. "Yes, But" demoralizes. "Yes, And" uplifts, as noted by Rev. John Herron, a pastor who planted LifeChurch, a multisite church in Michigan, who studied the process at The Second City Theater in Chicago. "Trust is built through Yes,' which is essential when you are journeying out into the unknown together."

Jesus powerfully used "Yes, And" with the woman at the well ("You are right that you have no husband", the Caesar coin toss ("Whose image is this? And whose inscription?") and with Pontius Pilate ("Are you the king of the Jews?" "You have said so.")

How does this "Yes, And" approach compare with your team communication? Are you typically "Yes, And" or "Yes, But"? How might your environment change by becoming "Yes, And-ers"? For more "Yes, And" ministry applications, study any of these books as a small group study. Hatch by C. McNair Wilson; Holy Shift by Jonathan Herron; Yes, And, by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton.

With the elements in place of your Scripture-based small group with a clear, unified mission, and open communication in place, it's time to become risky and build a team like Jesus built His team, to fulfill His commands to go make disciples and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

To start, take inventory of two elements: 1) your current church population; 2) the community in which your church is situated.

5. Evaluate Your Team

Educator Alfie Kohn has written, "The strongest teams are the most diverse."

Apostle Paul said the same to the Roman church, saying, "We all have different gifts."

Jesus demonstrated this diversity when selecting his apostles. When Jesus told each of the 12, "Follow me," He had seen in each man in the villages of his mission field. He knew the needs of the village people, how the skills of each were needed to address those needs, and invited each to have a responsibility in creating the salvation story. They were fishermen, laborers and accountants who were both older and younger than He; they had varied temperaments and accents. They reflected their community.

Does your ministry team reflect the makeup or desired makeup, of your church community?

A Team Jesus Template Evaluation Exercise

Viewing your current (or dream) ministry team, create an ensemble no larger than 12:

1. PERSONNEL: Make a list of current team members. When was your most recent addition?
2. DEMOGRAPHICS: Make a note of relative ages or tenure at the church. How many are the same age, either chronologically or by tenure at the church? If not gender specific, is each gender represented on the team?
3. TEMPERAMENT: Who are outspoken? Who are introverts? Who are visionary? Who are argumentative? Who are sarcastic? Who are chronic complainers?
4. SKILLS: Who is comfortable using current technology? Meeting people?
5. CULTURE: Are there any individuals from another ethnicity or culture that are present in your church or local community?

Here is a recommended checklist to balance composition of your ministry team:

o Invite one new member (defined as new member to the church, or someone who has not served in this ministry in the previous 12 months);
o Invite members of another generation (one male, one female);
o Invite a teen (middle school or above);
o Include a community member who is not a part of the church.

This brief survey gives you a place where growth may occur, and may indicate why progress has been stifled. Discuss what you discover from this exercise.

A Community Evaluation Exercise

The diverse demographics of the U.S. population brings "all the ends of the earth" into communities within blocks of a church that may have, in years past, only connected with its residents through missionaries the church supported in a foreign land. Legal or undocumented, these residents need to hear the Gospel of Christ, rather than negative viral images and sound bites.

How are your ministry teams structured to interact with these modern-day Samaritans?
Are your ministries aware of the demographics and needs of families near your facility?
How might some of your current staffing needs be filled by reaching out to a new populace?
Where might your team need to "go" in your community to make disciples?
Where in your church family is access to the voices in the community you're trying to serve? Where in church leadership?
What are your staffing needs to effectively tell those individuals that aren't coming, that you exist?

6. Brainstorm Atypical Opportunities to Engage Others

Having done your self-evaluations, you've likely discovered needs you are currently unable to fulfill. Do not be discouraged.

Bring your small group together, review the needs of team and community, pray and use "Yes, And" to brainstorm possible ways God is speaking to engage others.  List as many as possible, then ask for discussion. Do not evaluate at the moment an idea is being offered. This sidetracks conversation. Make sure all suggestions are collected (Ask "Are we missing anything?" "Is there anyone who wants to add anything else?" or be as direct as, "Thomas, we haven't heard from you. What do you have to offer?").

Then evaluate the list. The focus at this point should be on narrowing the list to needs and prioritizing wants. This is your prayer and action list.

Sample issues and solutions:

Create a Spiritual Resources Team as the "human resources" clearing house maintaining a data base for job descriptions, Spiritual Gift Inventories, gift and hobby interests, as a first step for newcomers to prepare as a next step to ministry participation.
Develop a partnership with local schools (public high school, charter school, community college, Christian schools or para-ministries) to help staff church openings through reciprocal community service projects. Do not confine this relationship to a youth pastor, young adult pastor or community relationship pastor. (More on this theme at a later date.)

Engage in conversation with leaders of local groups who are concerned with social matters such as homelessness, immigration, prison outreach, or other topics in news headlines. A church stepping out, as Jesus did, to engage in the conversation has the potential of bringing new people to serve.
Be willing to employ not-yet-Christians (especially teens) in serving roles such as social media maintenance, worship media personnel, even musicians. Be clear with these volunteers what the expectations are of small group service: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, fellowship. This will be the core of new disciples.

7. Beware of Attacks by ‘The Enemy’

When reaching outside the walls of the church to build ministry teams, expect The Enemy to interfere. Members of your congregation may object as well as the community-at-large. Do not be surprised. Maintain harmony within your group.

Don't be surprised, either, if the equipment starts becoming dysfunctional as well as people. Among the prayers when convening remember Christ's unity prayer for His disciples following The Last Supper (John 17), Paul's reminder to don The Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and what Jesus taught in The Lord's Prayer, to be delivered from The Evil One (Matthew 6:13)

8. Empower Through the Spirit

Two of the top reasons that people quit their job, says the U.S, Labor Department, are lack of recognition and lack of empowerment. No. 1 is they don't like their boss. Who of the 12 didn't like Jesus? Jesus told His followers He gave them, "All authority."

Few things undermine enthusiasm than micromanagement. The point of Christ's ministry was for Him to teach, strengthen, trustand leave. "It is best for you that I go away," John quotes Jesus (16:7).

He left the rest to the Holy Spirit. So should we.

Yes, and in Summation

The process of building teams for Christian ministry has changed through the years, as methods of communication have changed. Our needs have changed, because of new technology. What hasn't changed, however, is the foundational core established by Jesus and his original apostles: Whatever the skills needed, clarify and stay in the mission to worship God, make disciples, and share the gospel; stay in the scriptures, pray, worship, and build relationships (fellowship) together. Seek first His kingdom and His righteous and all the things such as designers, singers, teens and displaced people, will be given unto you.

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