How can we strengthen our congregations’ ministry teams as we reach out with God’s gospel message to each other and our communities?
God likes it when his people get along! “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). There are blessings when God’s people get along with one another and are loyal to him and his Word. God is glorified. God’s people love one another. They reach out to others in love. They share the gospel. Ministry moves forward.
But the devil is ever-present to build roadblocks and design detours to hinder getting along. He appeals to sinful natures to hinder spiritual health. He encourages self-centered agendas. He nurtures disrespect. He forms factions that distract from carrying out the Great Commission. Therefore, it is vital for ministries to strengthen their ministry teams—called workers, lay leaders, and other people of God serving in a variety of ways.
Where does such strengthening begin? It starts with the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of God’s people.
Peter wrote, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). When we do not faithfully grow in using God’s Word and sacraments, we rob the Holy Spirit of opportunities to grow our faith, love, and motivation for ministry. When this happens, team members may think, say, and do things that hurt others and hinder ministry.
To strengthen ministry teams, it is important to expect spiritual growth through worship, Bible study, and home/personal devotions. Therefore, ministries will encourage spiritual growth and give those serving in ministry resources to provide opportunities for the Spirit to strengthen their faith.
In a book entitled Lead, author Paul David Tripp asserts that Christian leaders lead best in a gospel environment that nurtures spiritual growth. Tripp maintains that such an environment models humility. It is honest and open in communication. It is patient but also protective in lovingly addressing sin and unfaithfulness. It is forgiving, encouraging, and restorative. Such an environment promotes spiritual health for the ministry team and moves ministry forward.
Spiritual health affects emotional well-being. Even the spiritually strong struggle at times with depression, guilt, frustration, imbalance in life, and more. Being in tune with one another on a ministry team is important. When team members see others on their team struggling emotionally, it is important to reach out to them, listen, empathize, and encourage. Assure them that the Lord and the team are there to help. At times, encouraging medical and/or counseling help is necessary and loving. Nurture emotional health on your ministry teams.
Physical health also plays a role in the strength of a ministry team. If team members are not taking care of their bodies through maintaining a good diet, appropriate exercise, and adequate sleep, this may affect moods, sap energy, and diminish their level of service. This, in turn, affects not only the team member but also the whole team.
If you have traveled outside of the United States, you may have encountered places where the wiring is different from standard US wiring. You had to get appropriate adapters and plugs to charge your smartphone or other electronic devices.
Likewise, God has wired members of ministry teams differently. Some are wired to be thinkers; others, doers; still others, engagers; and still others, culture makers. While team members see differences, they may not always make the connection as to what this means as to perspective and approach. “Why don’t they see this?” “Why don’t they do this the right way—my way?” This can result in frustration and a lack of appreciation.
To help ministry teams see and appreciate God’s wisdom in wiring us differently, it is helpful for team members to see the differing strengths of a team. Using an online personal assessment tool such as Gallup’s CliftonStrengths can help identify those strengths. Not only is this valuable for seeing and appreciating differences, but it is also valuable to do more together better.
The same is true of having a clear direction and team members who buy into it. There is the old saying that a dog who chases two rabbits will catch neither. When ministry team members are working in different directions, they will likely not get the desired results.
Having a clear mission, vision, and values are key to strengthening ministry teams. So is recruiting people who buy into this mission, vision, and set of core values.
This side of heaven there will be no perfectly strong ministry teams. Yet, in view of heaven that awaits us purely out of God’s grace, do everything you can to strengthen your ministry team. God is with you as you do!
Author: Don Sutton
Volume 110, Number 2
Issue: February 2023
- Challenged churches
- Jesus’ church will not be overcome
- Refined by fire
- The importance of followers
- Our Lutheran moment
- Leading from your knees
- Leadership conference equips members to serve
- Training the next generation of leaders
- Moving the needle
- Strengthening ministry teams
- Reflections on Lutheran leadership
- Lutheran leadership: Not just authority
- The Lord’s triple gift