Month: May 2019

7 Elements of a Positive Team Culture in Your Church

A positive team culture doesn’t just happen. If you want to have a good start, begin my implementing an easy (but often overlooked) practice with your team—honestly caring about one another.

For years, people have talked about the need to build a great team atmosphere, especially in the work place. When there is synergy in your teams, people work better together and goals get accomplished that wouldn’t otherwise. A positive team culture doesn’t just happen, though. People are different, and therefore creating the right team atmosphere is different for every church and ministry. In fact, creating a strong team culture always includes trial and error. But, if you want to have a good start, begin by implementing an easy (but often overlooked) practice with your team—honestly caring about one another.

An excellent example of this is a conversation two pastors recently had after attending a seminar on strengthening marriages. The sessions were challenging but one particular seminar struck a chord with the men. Later as they drove home, one turned and asked his friend, “What do you think I could do to make my wife feel more valued?”

His friend thought about it for a moment and replied, “Well, maybe if you started to value her more.” That was an almost shocking answer because the pastor and husband thought he was doing that already. On the surface, he often demonstrated his care for his wife but he had to admit that when it came to him valuing her, he came up short. At the end of a day, he would listen as she ran down the list of all she had done at her own job and then how she had dealt with their kids. He nodded and listened and even offered a smile of encouragement, but his value of her as a very important part of his life was shallow and he knew it.

You see, a person can be an effective leader but not know how to value his or her team members.

Some leaders feel so out of touch with those on their staff that they hope someone else will show up and do the hard work for them, but God doesn’t let us off the hook that easily.

We were created for relationships—first with Him and then with others. If you think about it, the very thing Jesus did the most was to value those who were on His team. He knew their flaws and shortcomings, but He stayed on track with them and provided the right leadership to build a cohesive team.

Don’t become so busy trying to grow your church that you forget to take time to develop those who are on the journey with you.

Jesus made an effort to know His disciples and followers on individual levels. He didn’t call them to follow Him and then go on vacation. He called them and He led them so they would become successful.

Many pastors and church leaders eagerly sign people up to work or volunteer only to leave them floundering on the sidelines. They think their job is done when, in actuality, it’s just started. Individuals who join a team should be brought into the group where they learn to work, play and win as one!

Here are seven crucial elements of building a strong team.

Value others

We all know the old adage that tells us to value others more than ourselves. If you want to build a team that is exciting and loves to come to work, practice valuing your team members over yourself. When you demonstrate sincere interest in their contributions to the task or the goal, you are teaching them how to be successful along with how to respect and value one another. The team that is based on mutual respect usually excels in many different areas.

Leaders can struggle at this point. The challenge is to be willing to be authentic in valuing others. Listen to what your team members are saying while understanding their desires, goals and dreams for the future.

Be a relational and not transactional leader

Bill Hybels observes, “It stands to reason that a leader sometimes seems to be three-fourths steamroller and one-fourth caring and compassionate colleague. When a leader walks into a meeting, he or she usually has only one thing on the brain: mission advancement.”

Every leader loves it when someone shows up with a smile and brings “fresh sight” to their ministry. They are usually welcomed with open arms. If you are a transactional leader, you look beyond the pretty smile and see what team members have to offer. You go straight for the bottom line.

relational leader will consider this same thing but will see team members like a flock of sheep that need to be nurtured at times. The more the sheep feel like they count and have value, the more they will feel secure and will produce even more each year.

Listen with curiosity

Learn to be a listener and not just a talker! Learning to listen well is foundational to every relationship. Listening with a curious intent shows that you are engaged and interested in what the other person is saying. It also demonstrates that you are “tuned in” and genuinely want to know about the person who is working alongside you.

All of us have worked for leaders who call a meeting and then proceed to talk the entire time about themselves. We come away feeling frustrated and like our time was wasted. Listening is a cornerstone to communication. The person who listens and speaks sparingly ends up building a deeper and stronger rapport with co-workers and friends. That person conveys that he or she is caring, trust-worthy and a good communicator.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only thing better than a good question is a good follow up question. The goal is to genuinely demonstrate you value the other person and you hear what they are saying. With each question you ask, you learn more about the person who is on your team.

Slow down

The pace of our world seems to be fast. We try to squeeze one more project, activity and challenge into our already “crammed to the max” days. At the core of this fast-pace lifestyle is the inability to focus on others and spend one-on-one time with them. People fall into bed at night and tell themselves that they are accomplishing great things for the Lord when that isn’t always the case, especially when the pace leads you away from spending time with Him.

One of the best parts of community at work is the time spent with others in collaboration. Make every effort to slow down, be still and listen. Having a team around you to do the work is one thing. Learning to value that team is the most important step in team leadership.

Don’t be distracted by technology

People know when you are distracted. It shows. You may think that you can hide your technology compulsions by saying things like “I’m listening; I’m just multi-tasking,” but your non-verbal message is clear. The team member or family member doesn’t have your attention, and they will feel the burn of being in second place. Put your smart devices away and refuse to be drawn away by them mentally.

Be engaged

Set a goal each day to check with a team member and spend a few minutes talking about life, work, and things that are important to them. The more engaged you are with your team, the stronger the bond will be. You’ll soon notice your team’s productivity increasing. Another very important thing happens: The team members begin to value one another. Tough challenges become solvable and even fun to achieve!

Show personal care

We live in a culture where verbal attacks and trash talking seem to be the order of the day. We have lost our sense of civility and no person or position is off limits.

When you hold up personal care against the backdrop of our culture, it is radically counter-cultural. Sadly, too often it is even counter to Christian culture. If you want to create an atmosphere where success and excitement thrive, learn to care for others. Deliver a cup of coffee to your co-worker’s desk.

Invite someone to have lunch with you and another team member and even pick up the tab. Take time to laugh with your staff, to talk with them, and learn how to compliment each person. Show you care and that you really mean it when you say that you value those who work with and for you.

The difference is yours to make and when you value others, it will be dramatic!

Article written for ChurchPlants by Joey Tindall. For other articles written by Joey, have a look here

12 Things to Pray for the Teens in Your Life

1. Pray that your teens will be saved (Rom. 10:1).

The deepest cry of your heart should be that God would save the unregenerate teens you know. Pray for authentic, total heart transformation. That teens will not trust in a memorized childhood prayer or an emotional experience, but will repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone.

2. Pray that your teens will love God’s Word (Psalm 119:9-10).

Pray that God would speak to teens through his Word and bless them with an arresting delight in it. That they would submit every question, decision, and desire to the Bible’s authority and gladly follow its counsel. Also, that they would get into Scripture daily, and that God would teach and strengthen them through it.

3. Pray that your teens will stay in church (Hebrews 10:25).

Pray that God would give them an abiding love for his people and a passion to participate in the community of the local church. That they would prioritize church over work and friends and a thousand other trivial and temporal things. Pray that God would use the local church to equip, encourage, and sanctify them for life.

4. Pray that your teens will have discernment (Rom. 12:2).

Pray that they will know the truth and resist false teaching. That they will be committed to remaining faithful to God’s Word. Pray that they will submit themselves to sound teachers and pastors who are grounded in Scripture.

5. Pray that your teens will follow wise guides (1 Cor. 11:1).

Pray that God would put strong and gracious counselors in their lives who will point them on the right path. That teens will have the humility to listen to their elders. Pray that God will protect them from poor decisions and naïve mistakes.

6. Pray that your teens will fight temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).

Pray that teens will not cave to culture or crushing peer pressure but will stand firm against the temptations they face – sexual temptation, social temptation, digital temptation. That the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin and lead them in righteousness. Pray that teens would joyfully welcome and even pursue accountability.

7. Pray that your teens will make godly friends (Prov. 18:24).

Pray that God would grant them flourishing friendships that will encourage them in the gospel and mature them in their faith. That they will spend time with those who are kind, humble, gracious, and wise. Pray that they will be influenced for lasting good by the people they spend time with.

8. Pray that your teens will pursue healthy relationships (2 Tim. 2:22).

Pray that they would chase and celebrate purity in all of their relationships. That God would grant them a godly spouse and protect them from sexual sin. But pray ultimately that they would love God more intimately and deeply than any boy or girl.

9. Pray that your teens will stand out from the world (Matt. 5:14-16).

Pray that teens will embrace their identity in Christ and wholeheartedly obey him even when it costs them. That they will not be blown by the winds of culture but will risk their reputations to publicly follow Christ. That they would rejoice in their freedom from sin and shine brightly in a dark world.

10. Pray that your teens will endure suffering well (2 Tim 4:5).

Pray that God would teach them trust in Him through their bitterest trials. That they would be sanctified through suffering. Pray that God would use their circumstances to make their faith stronger and happier and more resilient.

11. Pray that your teens will have wisdom (Prov. 3:4-5).

Pray that they will have guidance and direction in the midst of great uncertainty. That God would guard them from fear and anxiety and make them more reliant on him. Pray that whatever he has planned for their futures would bring him glory.

12. Pray that your teens will rise up and do great things for God (1 Tim. 4:12).

Pray that God uses this next generation to do far greater things for his kingdom than your generation. We ask that this next generation learns from both the wisdom and the errors of our elders and boldly rises up to the challenges we’ll face. Pray for this next generation–for we are your next missionaries, your pastors, your professors, your teachers, your politicians, your authors, your parents. And we’re your next church.

Article written for UnlockingTheBible.org by Jaquelle Crowe. Jaquelle a 19-year-old writer from eastern Canada. She’s a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com. You can find more of her writing at jaquelle.ca.

Top 10 Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

If you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.

Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top 10 responses in order of frequency.

  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. 

    This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.

  2. Unfriendly church members. 

    This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.

  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area. 

    This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, don’t expect young families to attend.

  4. No place to get information. 

    If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.

  5. Bad church website. 

    Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s just that basic.

  6. Poor signage. 

    If you have been attending a church for a few weeks, you forget all about the signage. You don’t need it any more. But guests do. And they are frustrated when it’s not there.

  7. Insider church language. 

    Most of the respondents were not referring to theological language as much as language that only the members know. My favorite example was: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.”

  8. Boring or bad service. 

    My surprise was not the presence of this item. The surprise was that it was not ranked higher.

  9. Members telling guests that they’re in their seat. 

    Yes, this obviously still takes place in some churches.

  10. Dirty facilities. 

    Some of the comments: “Didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a week.” “No trash cans anywhere.” Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop.” “Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.”

There you have it. The top 10 reasons first-time guests said they did not return to a church. I can’t wait to hear from you readers. You always have such good additions and insights.  

Article written for Christian Leaders Thom Rainer. Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). http://www.thomrainer.com

The 10 Commandments of Great Worship Team Members

Sometimes I lead the worship band and sometimes I play in the band. Both are important roles and have specific responsibilities to do them well. As both a leader and a player/singer, here are my ten most important rules as a team member:

1. I will be available at least twice per month and answer worship department emails within 24 hours 
  • I find that players need to play a minimum of twice per month to stay in the flow of the worship and maintain good relationships with the leader(s) and team members.
  • As someone who has scheduled worship teams for years, prompt replies by the team members is greatly appreciated. Also, it is a good habit to be prompt in all your communication. It is a form of discipline and respect.
2. I will listen to, practice and memorize the songs for Sunday
  • Most musicians learn by listening. I always spend the .99 cents to $1.29 to download the songs on iTunes and make a playlist to listen in my house and car. Listening will teach you things that charts never will. I also use the PlanningCenter.com app and media player for my phone
  • I will take time to practice the new songs for the team and briefly review the older songs. I want to be excellent in my service to the Lord. Wether I get paid or not, I’m playing for the ‘King of kings’. God rewards faithfulness and excellence.
  • I will play according to the style of the music that is driven by the church’s vision/mission instead of simply imposing my personal tastes into the music. 
  • I will memorize the music. Memorizing songs allows me to get past the music and worship God freely. Most worship songs are not hard to memorize. Here is my post on helping you to memorize.
3. I will show up prepared and on time for rehearsal
  • Leaders and other team members really appreciate when all the team has done their homework. When the drummer knows the grooves, tempos and breaks, it makes the rehearsal go so much smoother. When the lead guitar and keyboard players have learned the introductions and lead lines, it saves so much time for the rest of the group.
  • I will bring a pencil to highlight problem parts, changes and incorrect charts.
  • When team members all show up on time, it shows respect and value for the whole team. It promotes unity and makes the rehearsals go much smoother.
4. I will show respect and love for my fellow team members and leader
  • The second greatest commandment is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. When team members show love and respect for each other, rehearsals, worship and life in general is much better.
  • If team members get direction that they don’t like. It’s important that they don’t take it personally, agree to disagree and submit – just like professionals do in the studio.
  • Being a leader can be tough. When you give respect and are patient with your leader, God sees and rewards that attitude and heart.
5. I will not noodle on my instrument when the leader is speaking
  • Having great rehearsal habits is important. The time to practice your individual part is when you are on your own.
  • You show respect for the leader and the rest of the team when you learn to listen at the appropriate times.
6. I will worship as I play my instrument and endeavor to be a great worshipper on and off the stage
  • The purpose of a worship band is to worship God and lead the congregation to do the same. If you are just playing or singing then you are not fulfilling your responsibilities. Get past the music and worship God and lead by example.
  • A sign that you are an authentic worshipper is that you are the same on and off the stage. People see you on and off the stage. Be authentic!
7. I will attend church and give whether I am playing or not
  • Great team worship team members know the importance of regular church attendance. We all need to be great congregational members before we can become great worship team members.
  • Supporting your local church means more than playing your instrument. Giving of your time and finances really shows where your heart is.
8. I will practice my singing and/or instrument regularly
  • Great worship team members are better this year than they were last year.
  • Great team members work on growing by practicing regularly, taking lessons and watching and learning from great worship videos.
9. I will wear the appropriate clothes for the dress code
  • I never want my clothes to be a distraction to our worship times.
  • My general advice is to develop a dress code that is modest and culturally relevant to your congregation.
10. I will grow in my love for the Lord and live a godly lifestyle
  • This is the last commandment but it is the most important. Loving God with your whole heart and life is the core of worship.
  • Living a life that is pleasing to God opens up the door for God’s blessing on your life. Don’t allow sin to ruin that. Repent and get back on track!
  • Great worship team members are more than volunteers. They are serving in worship ministry because of the calling and gifting of God in their lives.

Question: What points have I missed? Are you a great worship team member? What areas can you improve on?

Article written by Mark Cole. Mark has spent over 30 years as a Worship Pastor in some of the largest churches in Canada and is also the founding musical arranger of PraiseCharts.com, a ministry supplying worship charts and orchestrations for thousands of churches around the world. To find out more about Mark, click here