Strengthening your team’s effectiveness to win the lost is no easy task. But In order to run a successful children’s ministry program, you need a strong team. The Bible is all about teams. From the very beginning, God saw man and he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Even God the Creator of the Universe wanted man to walk in partnership. Pretty cool, huh? Let’s take Moses for example. He was a man of God and a great leader. But he lacked one thing: the ability to see that teams matter. That all changed when Jethro, his father-in-law, took the time to advise him on creating a leadership structure.
In Exodus 18 Moses judged the people, which is just another way of saying he helped them solve their individual problems. But when Jethro saw that Moses was “judging alone,” he said to Moses (I’m paraphrasing) “Dude, where is your team? You’re going to wear yourself out unless you appoint people to help you carry out this task.” So Moses took Jethro’s advice and built his team. He recognized the value of having people come alongside him to carry out the mission God had given him.
Even Jesus took the time to build a team. As a matter of fact, before He started His ministry, He felt it necessary to build and establish His leadership team first. What an incredible example of leadership. Jesus, with all of His power, still realized that He needed leaders to accomplish the mission God had given Him. Having a team is important, but is it enough to just have a team? I would have to answer a strong “no” to this question.
God requires us as leaders to do more with our teams than just give them a task. He wants us to pour into our teams, build our teams, shepherd our teams, and most of all, create healthy dynamics within our teams. As children’s pastors and leaders we need to make it our top priority to create healthy teams within our organizations. Here are some strategies that have proven to be effective in cultivating and building healthy teams.
Get to Know Your Team
There is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt that says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” What a powerful statement. I’m sure many of you have probably seen or heard this statement before. As leaders, though, have we actually stopped and taken the time to apply it in our organizations? I quoted this often in my own meetings with staff and volunteers. No matter how much work you have to get done or events you have to pull off, it’s super important to have a high relational value within your organization.
Take your team out to coffee; get to know them and their story. It would mean the world to them if you do. Be intentional about looking at your calendar and schedule these relational moments. Ministry has a way of keeping us all busy. But when we’re intentional about making relationship building a value in our individual ministries, it will motivate a team to be in sync with one another. They will see the value they bring to the team. Every team member you have working for you is different. As a leader you must recognize their differences and find out what their love languages are. Getting to know your team is a huge part of being a successful leader.
Create Safety Within Your Team
Ask yourself this question: Can the people on my team talk to me about anything and still feel safe? If the answer is “no,” then you probably need to re-evaluate your leadership. When you create safety on your team it gives them the ability to be everything God created them to be. And you want that!
You can create safety by never sharing what your team member shares with you behind closed doors. You can create safety by having a listening ear and asking questions instead of jumping to any conclusions. Always check on your team, and ask them how they’re doing. Within reasonable time, address any concerns they may have about their jobs and show them that you care. Be present in the conversations that you have with them and follow up if need be. Safety creates a foundation of trust within a team. Distrust breeds unhealthy teams. When a team can trust each other they can accomplish anything together!
Appreciate Your Team
Always make it a point to appreciate your team. Tell them what they did and why you appreciate them for doing it. Get them a gift card, or their favorite candy, or their favorite Starbucks drink! Praise them in public and talk about the things that need improvement in private. Anytime I’ve had a major event done at my church such as a Vacation Bible School or a kids’ camp event, we had a debriefing. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly (that’s the terminology we use to help us measure our success.) No matter how many things need to be improved, never allow the bad to overshadow the good.
The Benefits of a Strong Team
When you use these three strategies in your ministry, not only will you have a healthy team, you’ll have a strong team. I’ve had the privilege of working with some awesome teams in my life. These are the kinds of people who believe in you and have your best interest at heart. Strong teams get excited about the mission and vision of the church and would stop at nothing until that vision is fulfilled. Strong teams pray for each other and they do life together. They have each other’s backs all the time. Not only do healthy teams bless the church, they also bless the families we’re leading. If I had to sum up how a healthy team would impact the local church it would be John 13:35. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” When our teams come together in love it shows the world that Jesus lives! Kids will come to know the Lord, and families will experience restoration all because a team decided to be of one accord.