Why Build a Team?

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Today’s post by State Missionary Daniel Edmonds is the second one in our Coach’s Guide to Sunday School resource provided by the office of Sunday School and Discipleship. To see the full guide, visit ALSBOM.org/coachsguidetosundayschool.

Have you ever had a Moses moment, where you believed you alone should handle the entire task? Every leader is tempted at times to ‘go it alone.’ However, that will lead to severe limitations, poor ministry and burnout. This type of leader needs to hear the words of Jethro to Moses, “What you are doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17, HCSB).

Have you experienced an Elijah moment, a time you felt isolated and alone while facing a challenge? It’s not wise to address the mission of Sunday School alone. Like Moses, the mission requires a team, and like Elijah, every leader should have an apprentice.

The church is commissioned to make disciples. Discipleship demands the building of relationships. Paul built relationships in order to disciple numerous leaders, like Timothy, and challenged them to do likewise. Build a team, make disciples and multiply.

Team Characteristics

Jesus, the ultimate leadership example, called a team to a clear mission. Once the vision and mission of Sunday School is clear, it is time to call potential leaders to join the team. When calling the disciples, Jesus issued this call: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Look for team members willing to spend time together, learn together and be on a mission together. For any team to be effective, spending time together is essential. Game day is not the time for meeting and strategy planning; it is the time to reap the reward of all the planning, practice and prayer. Look for team members who will commit the time it takes to strengthen the work and accomplish the goals that are set.

The team that is willing to learn together and from each other will prosper. Training is a key to health and growth in any organization. Leadership should set the pace by attending and providing leadership training. People will respect and listen to leaders who are willing to undergo the rigors of training. Proper training enhances conversation, troubleshooting, strategy development and team cohesion. Enlist team members who will commit to being trained.

A unified commitment to a common goal is also an important characteristic in team members. Numerous Sunday School teams have been sidetracked and rendered ineffective by members committed to the status quo rather than attaining a new, challenging goal. Enlist team members who are willing to commit to the mission.

Team Members

Every team needs a head coach, and clearly Christ is the head of the church. He has also called pastors, overseers, to give guidance and to equip His bride for the work. Every pastor is encouraged to be the leader of the Sunday School team. In many churches, a nominating committee is used to put together the Sunday School Leadership Team or Council. Work with the nominating committee to recruit leaders willing to submit to the team characteristics and mission. The team should represent the various age divisions of the Sunday School, as well as the Sunday School director, pastor, staff and other key leaders.

In the book, Growing Sunday School Teams, Lawrence Phipps (ItsLifeMinistry.com) and I presented an acrostic using the word TEAMS (Teaching, Evangelism, Administrating, Ministering, Serving) to recommend a leadership team in each adult class. One way to approach building a Sunday School leadership team would be to enlist coaches by the five positions. Additional team members might be representatives of the age groups. Coaches would be responsible for recruiting and training in their specific area of expertise.

Whatever approach is utilized in building a team, be sure to keep the team at a reasonable size (5-­?10). If the team is too small, each member could be overloaded in responsibility. If the team becomes too large, it may be unmanageable or in danger of input-­?overload during meetings.

Staying On Point with the Mission

Once the team is assembled, discovering the metrics that matter in accomplishing the mission is important. These metrics could include ministering to members, mobilizing for evangelism, engaging members in missions, and involving members in ministry. The team should address consistent recruiting and training in order to secure health and growth. Administrative matters will also need attention, such as curriculum, equipment, record keeping/analysis, budget preparation and goal setting. Finally, the team should be involved in ongoing evaluation of mission progress and alignment.

Team Meetings

What do you do when you meet with the team? Meetings can often dissolve into a task-­?oriented administrative meeting. For the meeting to be effective, it needs to become a microcosm of the greater mission. For example, if the mission is to build relationships and make disciples, then the team meeting should be a time of building relationships and making disciples who can make disciples. Leaders on the team should be shining examples of what they want to lead others to become. You may need to spend less time training for the task and more time leading members to follow Christ and “live sent.” For example, instead of teaching teachers to teach, teaching them to live the disciplines of a disciple that the Holy Spirit can use would be better.

A Sample Meeting Schedule (allow for 90 minutes minimum)

I. Inspiration and Accountability (allow time for building relationships and discipleship)

A. Devotional related to discipleship and/or leadership
B. Time of sharing by group members from their personal walk
C. Accountability for basic disciplines (daily quiet times, sharing faith, etc.)
D. Prayer needs and prayer

II. Instruction

A. Training for members
B. Tips for improvement, latest trends, etc.

III. Information

A. Updates
B. Upcoming events
C. Accolades/appreciation toward team members

IV. Investigation

A. Progress report
B. Record analysis
C. Needs – equipment, space, curriculum, etc.

V. Interaction

A. Reports from team members
B. Insights and ideas

VI. Improvement

A. Troubleshooting and brainstorming
B. Planning for future events

VII. Involvement

A. Assignments for team members
B. Potential leader enlistment and training
C. Events
D. Fellowships, mission opportunities, ministry needs
E. Calendar planning

VIII. Investing in the Future

A. Prayer for prospects
B. Prayer for current teachers and leaders
C. Prayer for future leaders
D. Prayer for events
E. Prayer for mission opportunities
F. Prayer for ministry needs
G. Prayer for the membership

Obviously this schedule is more than can be accomplished in any one meeting. Some items are more essential than others, but all of these details (and more) will come into play during the years. The real key is to place an emphasis on making disciples and building leaders.

The Players

Beyond the team, each church will have a variety of key players who are not necessarily on the leadership team. These may include staff members, department leadership and class leaders. Wisdom dictates not only to train these key players, but also to build solid relationships with and show appreciation (publicly and privately) for them. Place a high value on effective and continual communication of the mission and mission priorities with these vital leaders. Give opportunities for them to have input in and ownership of the mission and vision. On occasion, conflict may arise that will need to be addressed; however, do so in love to honor Christ and His church.

All Together

The ball is in your hands, but the game doesn’t rest on your shoulders alone. Are you and the team up for the challenge?

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