Yes, I know that’s not a word but I wanted to start the conversation here playing off the title of the article. The reason why I wanted to start here is because you cannot have development before you have assembled a team. And you don’t have a team until you have assembled the right team. It’s playoff time here in North America as it relates to American Football or the NFL. There are 30+ teams in the NFL; I think even Cleveland has a team (sorry…low hanging fruit there). But only one team is the New England Patriots no matter how much that may delight or disgust some of us. It’s not enough just to have a team but you have to have assembled the right players on the team.
This article is not about how to assemble a team. Therefore, while important to discuss, I will breeze through these points rather quickly and assume you have a team that resembles something close to this:
Teammates put the mission goal above personal achievement
Each member of the team is put in their proper position to execute their tasks.
Don’t ask a cat to bark or a mule to fly. The effort might be there but their skill set will not accomplish the goal
The team values the privilege in doing the work
The mission is not grateful for you, you are grateful to work on the mission
Humility and respect are character traits of each member
Service and/or serving others informs just about every decision made by every member of the team every day
Remember what we all learned from Jim Collins’ seminal text “Good to Great”: before you take the bus of people on the journey, get the right people on the bus first!
Team Development Step One: Write the Vision
People perish where there’s a lack of vision, (Proverbs 29:18). Before you tell that guitar player he’s playing too many notes – (don’t they all?) – and before you have to tell the pastor his granddaughter consistently sings off key – (yikes!) – you have to seek God to have Him speak what He would have you do in this current season of your ministry. It doesn’t have to be a revelatory burning bush outside your apartment, but it does have to rooted in what God wants for the ministry. This provides great cover! For, when the slings and arrows come your way you can stay focused on the mission God has placed for you to follow. It’s not personal.
I believe you have to agree on what success looks like. For the praise team I have the joy, privilege and honor of serving, I showed them Israel Houghton videos. I played them Vertical Worship songs. We had not one, but 2 in-house workshops on worship. We did a book study. We started each rehearsal with 30 mins of spiritual development materials I purchased for them and I taught worship.
We decided our vision would entail audacious worship! It’s like explaining hip-hop or rap to someone: we may not agree on if it’s music or not, but we can absolutely identify it if we hear it. Your vision has to be that clear so that when your team sees the vision, we can all agree on what it is. Make sure the team, not just you, agree on what success looks like. This provides great cover! For, when the slings and arrows come your way you can stay focused on what the team said we’d value. Our team decided punctuality was necessary. The team decided not to serve on Sundays if you’re not prepared. The team decided on the rehearsal schedule. It’s not personal.
Step Two: Build a Runway
Are you aware the most important aspect of a flight, any flight, to go anywhere is not whether you sit in 1st class or coach. It’s not if you get your own entertainment monitor at your seat or have to watch whatever movie the plane has cued up. It’s not even the size of the plane or the skill of the pilot, although that ensures a safe travel. It’s the runway.
If the runway isn’t long enough to allow for takeoff, the plane doesn’t get off the ground. It’s really that simple. Therefore, now that you have set the vision for your team you have to clearly articulate the steps on how to get there. Auditions, education, web resources, e-books, perhaps a handbook you compose and distribute of standard operating procedures – all of this and more could be your runway. Take the values in Step One and make that your team handbook. Email it out, print copies, keep copies in your office, make sure everyone and anyone has them. Blanket the earth with standards.
Step Three: Set a Deadline/Over-communicate
Make sure you communicate to your team that the changes you plan on implementing are to keep and attract people to the team, not to kick members off the team. Therefore, pick 3 months or more into the future to
implement long term changes. This gives every current member the luxury of seeing the changes happen ‘in real time’. You will be training your teammates for the new thing that’s coming.
You don’t want to kick anyone off the team because your procedure is unclear or they didn’t have time to adjust. That’s when your senior pastor gets involved and ugly conversations start. We had our workshop in June. I told them auditions would take place in October and November, new teams and new teammates would begin in January. That’s a 6 month window for folks to ‘get right’.
And while you’re doing this say it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over….
You get it.
Mention the standards at every rehearsal, before every worship service they’ll serve, in every email. Send the standards to your pastors, your leadership and assistants. Place the standards in your office. Pin it to a bulletin board. Put it on your web page, your church announcements – everywhere! For when you have to kick someone off your team, and you will, you do not want them to say, “I didn’t know” as an excuse to stay. Put the responsibility on the team to adhere to standards; your responsibility is to over communicate the standards.
The Praise Team at my church is stronger than it has ever been. There are times when the worship service is over and we don’t want to go home! We just stand on the platform and marvel at what God has done and what He’s doing. I am thankful I had the courage to implement some simple initiatives to make us better. Since these new standards were put in place a few years ago we have never looked back. When God is in it from the beginning, when you articulate standards and when you implement changes in a way that encourages participation, your team will be better than ever.