Students of the New Testament know this fact. Gospel ministry is consistently portrayed as a team ministry.
- How can I know for sure?
- Is there any way to know ahead of time?
- What about after the person is already serving?
Those three and other similar questions are the ones we frequently ask. We simply want to be sure of God’s will for ministry team members.
Local churches need healthy teams to accomplish the ministry God expects of us. So whether I’m thinking about our senior ministry staff, servants council, worship team, outreach teams, or connections team, it’s about keeping the team healthy enough to move forward in unity and accomplish God’s will.
I haven’t always had a plan to help me create and maintain healthy teams. And in the ministry, we sometimes inherit dysfunctional teams and have no immediate authority to evaluate and make changes.
But whether you’re a lead pastor, a denominational executive, a volunteer team leader, or a para-church ministry leader, I believe you need a way to think through who serves on your team.
These 5 marks can be used by an individual considering joining a ministry team or a team leader trying to build the best team possible. This is also a healthy way to evaluate team members who have already served for a pre-determined time.
There’s no perfect way to do this, in my opinion, because it always involves some subjectivity. This is why Christian leaders should seek to live sanctified and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
As you seek God in prayer, I believe this plan will help you make decisions according to His will.
The first one is first because it must be. The next four could be listed in whatever order best suits your setting.
1) Character. Without the necessary Christian character, we move no further. This is God’s business. So, we at least need someone who is growing in evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The dominant character trait I’m looking for is biblical servanthood.
2) Chemistry. This speaks to the ability to work well with the team. While we each have individual assignments, we must see how our work fulfills the primary mission and vision of the local church. This means no lone ranger attitudes, or I’m so independent that I don’t submit my work plans to the team. Unhealthy personality traits that lack humility are not allowed.
3) Calling. Does the person have a sense of divine calling? Is it evidenced by some level of passion? It can depend upon the individual’s age and how long they’ve been in the faith, also known as their maturity level in Christ. You want to see some life actions that demonstrate a growing understanding of the call of God to serve.
4) Competency. You obviously want a competent person, and the temptation is to look here first. But some people will ooze charisma. They can convince you they’re the right person before you’ve had the opportunity to think through questions like these. Can they do the work of the ministry needed in their role? And are they competent with the menial, thankless tasks of ministry that only God sees?
5) Commitment. Every team has a standard minimum level of commitment needed from each member. For example, if you can’t make it to established band practices, you’re not a good fit for our worship band. Everyone practices, and when they can’t, they have a legitimate adult-like reason. Likewise, we have a problem if you’re a member of my senior ministry staff and can only attend every third staff meeting. These are only examples, and various commitments are required depending on the type of ministry team. However, the right person for your team will view their role as a covenant with God. And in that spirit, they should have no trouble fulfilling the stated earthly commitment to serve Him. If they’re already on your team, don’t be fooled. They’ve already shown you their commitment level.
How does this practically work? Here’s my counsel.
Each of these 5 marks represents 20% and would total 100%. But no person will consistently score 100%.
However, you want to be gracious and stringent at the same time. That’s how you build a healthy ministry team.
I want a minimum score of 80% from team members that I give direct oversight. Anything less than that means I need to initiate a conversation and restate the expectations.
Character matters more than anything else on the list! It represents the first 20%. Without a minimum of 15%, don’t bother proceeding. Don’t put someone on your team just because the person is incredibly gifted. Have that grace-filled conversation with them if they’re already on your team and their character is slipping.
With competency issues, get them some training if they meet the other marks. Equip people to grow into gifted servanthood.
Again, this is a subjective process, and it’s often a silent one too. You can work through this without discussing it with the prospective or actual team members. You can also prayerfully evaluate a candidate or an existing team member and discern the next steps needed.
If you have any questions or want prayer as you build your healthy ministry teams, feel free to reach out.
These 5 C marks probably aren’t original to me. Over the last three decades, I’ve read from and listened to many people more intelligent than myself. So this plan is most likely an outgrowth of my continuing education and insight as a church leader.