How to Lead Championship Ministry Teams

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Gooooooooooaaaaaaalllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!  A familiar celebratory cry as the eyes of the world descended upon Brazil during the summer of 2014, while hosting the FIFA World Cup. For some time soccer has been the most popular sport throughout the world, but it has only been in recent in years that the masses in the United States have joined the hype and excitement associated with the global competition.

The more people watch, the more they discuss, and as with any athletic competition, there is always plenty of room to question the decisions of a coach. While the individual stars and athletes typically cherish the majority of the praise, it is the coach that carries the burden of the criticism.

With closer examination, youth ministry teams can learn much from watching the coaches and teams participating in the FIFA World Cup. Some churches have ministry teams that are made up of multiple paid staff and others are solely compiled of volunteers, but no matter the size of the church if you are attempting to lead in ministry as a lone ranger then you are most likely headed for an early departure from ministry.

Here are a few helpful thoughts to consider as a team leader:

Player Coach vs Sidelined General

While it doesn’t occur often, there have been a few cases in sports where an active player is given the additional responsibilities of coaching. The player coach has a unique perspective of the team strengths, gifts, and needs because of the close involvement in the training and game.  Leading a ministry team requires a player coach approach.

As a leader it is important for you to remain involved in the trenches of ministry. Whether it is in the form of mentoring students or personally leading a small group, resist the dangerous trap of delegating so much hands on interaction that you lose touch with the needs of the people God has called you to serve and lead.

Players Positions vs Players Strengths

team-membersToo often we allow job titles and job descriptions to interfere with creating the most effective of teams. Effective teams not only have great team members, but they have those great team members positioned for success. It is important for team leaders to fully understand the gifts and passions of the team members. This requires an intentional effort to spend time getting to know the team members. Jim Collins articulates this idea most effectively in his bestselling book, Good To Great, by stating that it is not only important to have the right people on the bus, but it is also important to have the right people in the right seat on the bus. Reserving leadership authority and responsibilities for the paid staff members or individuals with official titles, devalues the importance of the ministry of the baptized body of Christ.

Fluid Structure vs Cemented Structure

To the uneducated eye, soccer matches appear to lack the same level of strategy that you might find in associated with other sports.  In reality, the coach begins making strategic decisions long before the start of the match. The coach has to consider multiple factors related to the opponent, the weather, and the available players. After the match begins, the coach still has the opportunity to make decisions depending on specific situations that are presented during play. Coaches never set up strategic plans before a season that remain in place every game all season long.

Ministry leaders often find themselves in churches with structures and programs that haven’t changed in years. There are many reasons for this, but effective ministry leaders are rarely satisfied with the status quo. Like successful coaches, ministry leaders are constantly evaluating team members, programs, and goals. The best team leaders are always looking to improve. Changes are not made for change sake, but rather because they are necessary.

As a person that has been called by God to lead a ministry team, it is responsibility that we should take seriously. Effective team leaders are ultimately evaluated on the success of the team. Because of this fact, it is crucial that team leaders make team development a high priority. Humble leaders that strive to guarantee the success of the team members will find themselves successful.

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Josef has been working with students for more than 17 years, and is currently the Pastor of Children and Youth Discipleship at Chapelwood UMC in Houston, Texas. Josef and his wife, Amy, have 3 children. As a former college baseball player, Josef leans heavily on the importance of healthy teams in ministry. Whether staff or volunteer, young or old, Josef loves helping people discover their gifts in ministry. If free time ever were to exist, you would find Josef working on projects around the house or hanging out by the pool with friends and family.

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