“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
We all enjoy watching individuals achieve success in sports, business or entertainment through hard work, dedication and perseverance. It’s often called the American way because of our nation’s culture of self-reliance and rugged individualism. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We marvel at the accomplishments of people like Michael Phelps (swimming), Bill Gates (business), and Tom Hanks (movies) for what they have achieved in their respective fields.
But I think in many ways we have a greater appreciation for team success, watching several individuals work together to achieve a common goal, whether it’s in sports, business or the entertainment industry. That’s probably why we like watching television shows with ensemble casts or team sports in America. And people watch and celebrate team championships more than almost anything else, whether it’s the World Series, Super Bowl, or the World Cup. There’s just something about teams competing and succeeding that draws our attention and admiration. We value and enjoy seeing people work together, combining their different skills, personalities and experiences in ways that produce success. As Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
The same thing is true for the Christian Church. In order to achieve ministry success, pastors and church leaders will often need to build teams from among their members to work together for the common good of the church (ref. 1 Corinthians 12:7). Churches frequently use teams to oversee ministries, lead worship, develop future plans, or build facilities, just to name a few. Jesus built teams among his disciples and they rarely did anything individually. Teams also enable a church to distribute the workload to more than one person and generate a collaboration of ideas. This is important because each member brings different skills, gifts, and experiences to the church that when combined provide greater opportunity for the best outcome. It is also common that future church leaders will often emerge from within teams.
Churches and ministries should use teams for a variety of purposes, including strategic planning, budgeting, ministry oversight, adding staff, researching new ministry opportunities, or to analyze ministry problems and come up with solutions. Teams are most effective when the purpose is broad, the project is large, or the objectives impact many people, because they ensure that many perspectives and ideas are considered and discussed. Teams are not as effective when the project scope is narrow or requires specific technical skills.
When building teams it is important to have a clear vision and set of goals with defined outputs and deadlines. It is also crucial to designate a team leader. The success of any project will depend heavily upon the skill of its leader. Team leaders should select people with differing skills and backgrounds to enable differing ideas and solutions, and to assign each team member specific roles and activities so that everyone on the team participates and is committed to the project. The goal of the team leader is to manage the team like a sports team coach, getting everyone to use their individual skills to work together to produce the best outcome.
In my own personal life I have experienced the greatest joys and successes when working on teams, whether it was a business project, a basketball team, a short term mission trip, or serving on a church board. Close personal bonds are developed, different contributions are celebrated, and achievements are more satisfying. I would guess that many of you would say the same thing.
So when you are faced with a big project, problem or opportunity in your ministry, I would encourage you to build a team to tackle it. You will increase participation in the ministry, develop tighter relationships among your members, and create the possibility for greater ministry success!