Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Team Ministry-The Continuing Discussion

I think the team is like a marriage in that it needs to have an overriding purpose that is bigger than the partners, and that conflict needs to be handled in such a way that the good of the ministry is put ahead of the individual agendas of the partners. Therefore, rather than proving one's rightness at all costs, and getting lost in petty disputes, there needs to be a commitment to submission to what God is seeking to do through the team.

I don't think everyone needs to be the best of friends but it is important to have mutual respect. I do think that there are times when someone is not a good fit on a team, and both the team and the individual should have the opportunity to end the relationship for the good of the ministry. (In that way it is not like a marriage.)

I do think that there needs to be one individual with final authority to say yes or no to decisions, mission, vision-casting, etc. That person should seek to lead through consensus, humility, and submission to Christ. However, they need to be willing to take ultimate responsibility for how things go and to reserve the right to final veto.

I think Acts 16 is my personal ideal--vision from God, confirmation from team. It doesn't happen every time! I also don't think every little decision needs to be perfectly harmonious. That is where mutual submission comes in, as well as deferring to certain individuals with particular gifting. For example, the worship leader should not need to be micromanaged by the pastor, and should be trusted to work out certain details independently.

As far as teams separating I think that sometimes people are called to a place for a brief season, sometimes for a longer period. It's not necessarily a sign of discord or division for teams to change. Long-term unity and stability is an excellent goal, of course, but it can't be forced. It needs to come from the Spirit, from clear vision casting, a flexible but strong leader, and an environment that allows for risk-taking.

I coordinate a collegiate ministry team with short-term missionaries and student leaders. We have just today come to a decision regarding major changes in a city-wide worship service. It has been a full month of prayer, discussion, conflict, and surprising challenges. Through it I have been seeking to model dependence on God for vision, willingness to listen to various viewpoints and patience. This has been a struggle since I have experienced frustration and even anger in response to some of the challenges. Today for the first time I saw some remarkable consensus from all of my team members and leaders. Everyone is agreed regarding the major shift in direction. The logistics are not yet worked out, but I am so thankful that everyone is now of one mind. I hope and pray that the rest will fall into place.



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