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How to Build a World-Class Ministry Team

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(Seven Ways to Create a Dynamite Team)

Wouldn’t it be great to lead a world-class ministry team? Imagine meeting your ministry team on Monday morning and seeing EVERYONE excited about getting down to work, each doing their best and excited about their next ministry success. Imagine your whole team filled with passion and a deep desire to work according to their own strengths and fully utilizing the strengths of the other team members. . . Imagine a ministry where everyone is passionate about making your ministry vision a concrete reality. . . Imagine!

A great imagination is a wonderful thing. Reality, however, is often little more frustrating. As great as imagination is, imagination alone doesn’t create a excellent teams. Imagination must be linked with concrete practical plans in order to have the power to change anything. Formation of a world-class team is built from the ground up, not handed down from heaven above. How can we build a world-class ministry team? Here are my Seven Ways to Create a World-Class Team:

Know your Goal

Leaders have concrete vision. Yogi Berra said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Wise words. Most people in ministry (or in business, for that matter) are motivated to do something, but they aren’t sure what. Unless you know your ministry direction, how is it possible to convince others to follow you? And, even if you can convince others to follow, a smart person will soon leave when they are recruited by a leader with a vision. I’m convinced a lack of vision is one of the major reasons congregations and other ministries struggle; people are frustrated by a lack of vision yet too loyal to their congregation or denomination to leave, so they stay around and complain about their frustrations. . . and little if any progress is made.

Overshare your Vision

It’s difficult to overshare a vision, but when in doubt, share again. When you recruit people to your ministry team, make sure they KNOW and BUY INTO your vision. Your vision must be your ministry passion; EVERYONE ON THE TEAM must completely understand your vision and want what you want.

Recruit Mission Partners, not Friends

Ministry leaders have a fine line to walk; you want to be “friends” (or more Biblically, Brothers/Sisters in Christ), but you are called to the mission of Christ. Effective ministries, just like effective businesses (and NGO’s, government agencies, and every other type of organization), exist to accomplish a mission. Therefore, make sure your team knows that the MISSION is more important than the participation of any individual (including the existing leader). The mission of Christ will get done with or without “me”; my job as a Christian leader is to faithfully focus on my calling in Christ and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Show the Ropes

Apparently an old nautical term, “show them the ropes” means to demonstrate the proper way to set the sails so that the ship will safely and effectively navigate the ocean and reach their chosen destination. You may recruit very successful people to your ministry team (and you should!), but that doesn’t mean they fully understand how Christian “ministry” works. You’ve heard the expression: “When all you have is a hammer, all the world’s a nail.” People will use the tools they know and understand. Your job as leader is to “show them the [Christian ministry] ropes.” Patiently and strategically equip your team members to become expert ministry team members. That’s your role as a Christian leader, to equip, teach, train, explain, share, encourage, and help each team member reach their fullest potential in Christ.

Create Experts

As you develop your ministry team, choose wisely. Where possible, recruit people according to the needs of the ministry and according to your vision of the future of that ministry. As you “show the ropes” develop the attitude that you are equipping your team to be experts in their field. Are you the smartest person in the room? If you are, then you will do whatever you can to elevate your team members so that each team member becomes the smartest person in the room in regards to their ministry area. Small minded leaders like warm bodies to validate their leadership. Good leaders seek to attract team members smarter than themselves; AND they work hard to help their team members become even smarter and better equipped and even more effective than they alone could ever be. Tom Peters: “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

Encourage Mistakes

OK, this might seem weird, but I believe it to be good advice. This doesn’t mean that you encourage people to try to do things wrong. . . quite the opposite. Encourage your team members to try new things, to push the envelope, to discover the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t. Every good and new ministry approach was once unconventional (and perhaps even considered unorthodox). Thinking outside the box is healthy for the individual, the team and the Church. Give your team permission to fail, to make mistakes, to fumble the ball (or any other figure of speech you can think of). You will create an atmosphere of joy and creativity; and by doing so, you will increase ministry effectiveness. (By the way: Happy people get more done, attract other happy people, and their  joy is efficacious – happy people will attract like-minded people into your ministry, people who want to be a part of the fun! — just say’n).

Know your Team as Individuals

To build a world-class team, you gotta know A LOT about the players. How many hours will a football coach spend recruiting and getting to know a player’s skill set, how fast they run, how far and accurately they can throw a ball, how well they catch, etc.? You are the coach of your team and you need to know your players very well. What are their particular set of skills, what expertise do they already have, what limitations might they have, and what is their ministry passion? A great leader knows their team members and gives them opportunity to serve in their areas of strength and helps the “players” shore up areas of relative weakness.

Your next team meeting might not be perfect, but over time, it can become better, and filled with joyful effectiveness for the cause of Christ. If you would like to talk about it, contact me!


Dr. Phil Pledger is The Higher Calling Coach. Each blog post and newsletter will discuss principles of solid and effective Christian leadership. If you don’t want to miss his blog posts, sign up for his newsletter at: Email Coach Phil at: if you would like to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation or would like to ask a question.

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