Joel Arthur Barker has suggested: “Teamwork will be the hallmark of the great companies of the twenty-first century.” I would add, “And the great churches of the twenty-first century.” Nothing would energize our church more than for us to develop the team concept. As leaders, we can help make it happen. What are some of the key principles that lead to teamwork?
Principle # 1: We must value the people.
Someone has suggested three categories of people: plus-plus people, plus-minus people, and minus-minus people. Plus-plus people say, “I can do it and you can do it, so let’s get it done.” Plus -minus people say, “I can do it, but you can’t do it, so get out of my way.” Minus-minus people say, “I can’t do it, and you can’t do it either, and why did you even bring it up.”
Leaders who build teamwork are plus-plus people. They say to the other members of the church, “I can do it, and you can do it, so let’s get it done together.”
This attitude is based on two biblical convictions: the conviction that every Christian is a vital part of the body of Christ; and the conviction that every Christian has been given a spiritual gift that will enable him or her to accomplish something significant for God.
Mary Kay Ash says every person is wearing an invisible sign that says, “Make me feel important.” Every church member is a part of a support group from which they can be made to feel important, if we are willing to develop the expertise and expend the energy to build the team.
Principle # 2: We must communicate with the people.
Steven Brown, in his book 13 Fatal Errors Mangers Make and How You Can Avoid Them, suggests that if a person is not doing his job, it is because of one of three factors: he doesn’t know what his job is, or he doesn’t know how to do his job, or something is interfering with his desire or ability to do the job. Two of those three factors have to do with communication.
Many times these valuable, gifted members of our church family are not a part of the team effort because we have not effectively communicated to them what the team objective is. A vital part of team building is to communicate with the people.
Principle # 3: We must listen to the people.
Communication means not only to keep everyone informed. It also means to listen to what other people say. Have you ever been introduced to someone and then, as soon as this person walked away, you have already forgotten his or her name? Why did it happen? Because you didn’t listen.
Listening is a key in team building. When we genuinely listen to people: it provides an understanding of what they are saying and in prevents misunderstandings; it enables us to learn something that will make our lives better; and it allows us to affirm other people’s value.
Principle # 4: We must involve the people.
For years we have heard people talk about “ownership.” For someone to support something, they have to own it. Let me tell you why we have heard that over and over again. Because it is true!
What does it mean to get people to “own” what is happening? It simply means that they have to be involved in every phase: in the initiation of the idea, in the strategizing about the idea, and in the implementation of the idea. Making this happen in the setting of a large church is logistically challenging. It is, nevertheless, a key to team building.
Teamwork will be the hallmark of the great companies of the twenty-first century. Let’s help our company or our church to be one of them!