TEAM Effort

Mary Ryan Leadership, Volunteers

As a former bank branch manager, volleyball coach, and a mother of three, I have come to realize the importance of showing and communicating value to individuals within a ‘team.’ Unfortunately, it is not always easy making decisions as to what is best for the TEAM, but understanding the importance of building a team to accomplish goals together is very valuable. There are plenty of team-centered slogans floating around with well meaning motivations. However, ministry opportunities come with their own unique set of challenges, frustrations, and rewarding moments.

Sometimes throughout the opportunities of ministry we, as Christians, may become frustrated or discouraged. We all know the saying that, “Within the church, 5% of the people do 95% of the work.” But we should not settle for this mind-set or attitude. We need to turn our attention toward the concept that it is not the church’s idea to serve, but instead it is God’s idea. As a leader, director or planner within a church, we have all heard the many reasons why others cannot serve: too busy, family pressures, feel unqualified, negative past experiences, never been asked, fear of failure, already served my time or a multitude of other reasons.

We need to turn our efforts to promoting the benefits of serving!

After all, it is biblical like the command found in Galatians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” God, ultimately, is holding us accountable for our service to/for Him. We should be willing to show appreciation to God through service to others and for the motive of glorifying Him in all that we do. We need to be passionate about the Lord and remember that anything we do in His name is always worthwhile!

We all need to get on board with the plans of God and follow His purpose for the times He has established. I know we think it’s easier said than done, but with a change in attitude and assertion we CAN accomplish what God has required of us. One of my favorite bible verses comes from Philippians 4:13, “I can accomplish all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Within our ministries we need to remind ourselves that we are not serving in our own strengths and abilities, but in the abilities and giftings that God has supplied to us. As the leader or director for ministry events, it is up to you to be mindful of the giftings that are evident in those around and look for ways to involve individuals in different roles. An effective team achieves more through the utilization of the strengths of individuals and the recognition of the value of each individual. Once you have identified individuals that would be valuable assets to your ministry the next step is to communicate with them. Don’t wait for a pulpit announcement or bulletin/newsletter plea for help, set up times to meet with people and discuss your ideas.

Topics of discussion:

  • The value of their task/responsibility
  • Description with qualifications of position
  • Share your plan to help them succeed
  • Respect for their needs/expectations – ask for feedback
  • Show appreciation and respect for the person regardless of their decision to accept or decline the task/responsibility

With that being said, first and foremost, as a ministry leader you should be in prayer for God’s direction, goals and provision. He will not only be faithful to provide the vision, but also to provide the workers. Be attentive to His directives and guidance. In addition, always remember the importance of a well planned event or activity and your need for help.

In addition to effectively planning out a recruitment process, keep in mind that some tactics are not helpful in finding the right volunteers. You must believe in your ministry yourself before you can genuinely, positively and convincingly communicate your expectations and vision to others. People should be volunteering for the right reasons; to glorify and please God, share His love with others, remain accountable for kingdom work and out of biblical obedience to His calling and not for the wrong reasons; guilt, pride, personal satisfaction or reward.

Tactics that are not helpful:

  • Pleas of desperation
  • Mindset of simply filling a position
  • Making threats – i.e., discontinue a ministry without volunteers
  • Dishonest communication about expectations – may create a feeling of manipulation or coercion

Keep your faith in God, not in people and remember to pray through it until God raises up the people you need to accomplish His goals. Above all else, we should be working to communicate the value of the tasks/responsibilities and the value of the people whom God has gifted to help in ministry opportunities.

So whether you are planning a couple’s retreat, leadership conference, youth summer camp, or any activity to grow the kingdom of God, always remember the concept of TEAM!

T – trust in God’s provision for the help you need and commitment to one another

E – eagerly do your part according to God’s design to advance His purpose

A – accept what is best for the team, not self-serving

M – missional mindsets, always pursue God’s purposes

Remember, servanthood is about attitude and action. All that we do should be to glorify God’s name and accomplish His purposes. Philippians 2: 5-8 expresses this concept best, “5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

In doing God’s work, let’s keep our focus on the BIG PICTURE: God is the real power source for ministry and higher principles of servanthood showing love for God and people should be our motivation.