Biblical Examples of Team Leadership

Gone are the days when a senior pastor is looked at as the “one man show.” There are some churches still operating in that system and the senior pastor does everything, but most of those churches are not growing and the senior pastor is left with the weight of the ministry on his shoulders.

Today churches are embracing a much-needed philosophical change of ministry called team leadership. Churches are embracing leadership models that are defined by words such as “team” and “teamwork.” In his book, Advanced Strategic Planning, Aubrey Malphurs says, “Excellent leaders understand that they can accomplish far more through the wisdom of a gifted and committed strategic team of staff and lay leaders.” The pastor is no longer the “one man show,” but is the lead pastors among other gifted and well-trained leaders.

Some Christians and church goers don’t like this model because it may seem to “corporate” or like a “business” model. But before you make that assumption and write off churches that operate with this team leadership philosophy, take a look at some examples of this team leadership in Scripture. Yes, this idea of team leadership is clearly seen in Scripture.

Moses took the advice of Jethro and formed a team to work with him (Exodus 18:24-26). Jethro saw that Moses couldn’t handle his wilderness ministry on his own. He needed help and he needed a team. You can read about the situation Moses was in and the advice of Jethro in verses 1-23. Moses followed Jethro’s advice and formed a team of able men to help him carry the load of his ministry.

Jesus recruited a team of disciples to be with Him and minister alongside Him (Mark 3:13-14). The fact that Jesus operated with a team leadership philosophy should be enough to motivate you to do the same! In Mark 3:13-14 we see Jesus chose twelve men He could be with and could send out to do His ministry.

Paul understood the significance of a team as he led and ministered through numerous teams (Acts 11:22-30). As you read this passage in Acts, and many other passages as well, it is evident that Paul understood the effectiveness of doing ministry as a team. Because he equipped other leaders to share the load of ministry, he was able to reach more people with the Gospel and minister to many more churches than he could have if he was in it alone.

Please don’t dismiss team leadership because the church has neglected it for so long. This idea if seen in the pages of Scripture. Churches can do more with they are led by a gifted team of staff and lay leaders. God wants to do great things through us and we can accomplish more for His Kingdom if we operate as a team.

Most of the content in this post came from Aubrey Malphurs book “Advanced Strategic Planning.” I would encourage you to check out this book and get a better understanding of team leadership, particularly about how to strategically plan as a team.

Guest Post: 15 Things to Consider When Joining the Staff at a Large Church

Realize you’re on a team. Upgrade your interpersonal skills. You will need to learn how to deal with disagreements and conflict in a healthy manner. Read up on this stuff and don’t assume that you’re great at it.

Learn your place. Be quiet in staff meetings. Spend the first 6 months – 1 year listening. Do not go into ministry thinking that previous programs or successes will transfer to a larger church. Each church has their own personality. Keep quiet about past successes. No one wants to hear about what awesome thing you did last year. They want you to lead in your current condition. This transfers over to staff meetings too. Spend time listening.

Develop a thicker skin. Get ready for input from your team leaders. Be ready for performance reviews. If you do not have thick skin, then get ready for your feelings to be hurt. In larger situations, you’ll have more people who evaluate your ministry and give constructive criticism. Just because a leader sees an area that needs improvement doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. They aren’t out to get you either.

Know you’re place. Communicate directly with your supervisor. If he/she says no, don’t go above his head. Respect the chain of command. Be ready to explain your ideas. Know how what you want to do fits into your current system. Larger churches do not like to do something just for the sake of doing it. Your leader WILL tell you no at some point. When that happens about an idea that you’re passionate about, do not go over their head. This will destroy trust and make you look like a brat.

Be ready to plan ahead. Larger churches like stability. That means you need to start planning out programs and events 6 months – 1 year in advance. Long gone are the days where you can plan a month or two out. You’ll need to know what you’re preaching on, what your small groups are learning, and any events that you’re planning (as well as prices of those events) well in advance. The further you plan out the better you’ll look and less parents will complain.

Get ready for detailed budget planning. Save your receipts and be ready to deal with a financial team. The financial team will have certain requirements of you. You’ll need to keep receipts, put them into budget categories, and prepare statements. Spend wisely and record with a passion.

Get to know the entire staff. Make time to make friends. Staff interaction is VERY important. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you need to be social with the rest of the team. Those friendships will be important. If you keep to yourself, you’ll look arrogant.

Build a strong volunteer base. Your job is now about building and equipping leaders to do ministry. Delegate. Train. Let go. If you make yourself essential in any area other than leadership, you’ve failed.

Learn the DNA of the church. Don’t create your own mission/vision statements. Adapt the church’s mission and vision for students. This is my personal opinion, but the last thing you want is to segregate yourself from the larger church. Show your leaders and your team that you walk in step with the vision and mission of the leadership.

Familiarize yourself with other ministries. Be ready to answer general questions about ministries you don’t lead. It never fails, someone someplace will ask you about another ministry. Be prepared to give an answer and then direct the person appropriately. If you do not take the time to know what everyone else on your team is doing, you’ll appear as if you don’t care.

Get ready for Executive Pastors. These men and women oversee the administrative duties of the Senior Pastor. They are important people to know and have good relationships with.

Learn to create systems for handling issues instead of dealing them as they come up. Be ready for hotel situations, volunteer expectations, payment plans, benevolence requests, etc. You need to think through this stuff. You need to project and be consistent.

Look at yourself as a “senior pastor” of the youth group instead of a youth pastor. Doing ministry in a larger group context means you won’t have your hands on everything. You’ll also need to learn how to counsel students and parents.

Become an expert at communication. Send bi-monthly volunteer emails (mailchimp.com), get a professional texting service (tatango.com), and publish 3 month calendar (with events, prices, and info).

Be careful what and how you post. Do not post ANYTHING on Facebook/Twitter about politics, arguments, the church, ministry staff, or anything that should stay in your head. Do not respond on Facebook/Twitter to anything students say or do that is questionable. That’s something you should handle in private.

This guest post was written by Nick Farr. Nick is a co-manger of YouthMin.org and website that connects everyday youth pastors. He’s also an Associate Pastor at East Ridge Church. He has been doing freelance graphic/web design for 17 years and provides services at a reasonable price for churches at http://www.nickfarr.me . I asked Nick to write this post because I just came on staff at Christ Community Chapel, a large, multi-site church in Northeast Ohio. I hope this post helps others coming on staff at large churches.

Guest Post: Don’t Hide Behind Your Inexperience

I was a critical Rookie Pastor. Particularly in my first year. Everyone was wrong, no one was listening to me and if they knew what was good for them they should. Then rather abruptly I was given explicit freedom to do it my way and I froze. All that talk was just that, talk. What I was once advocating I couldn’t pull the trigger on. My age wasn’t a liability until I wanted it to be. When others pronounced my age as a liability I fought it with cynicism and a critical spirit.

Don’t fall into this trap.

The temptation is to lead out of your place. We look up and criticize not knowing what it is like to have that responsibility. Our vision is limited to our specific area of concern while those above us, whether they be another pastor or elder, are concerned with the totality of the community. You have to acknowledge your limitations, as difficult as this may be. When the time comes when you do feel freed up to implement the change or shift philosophies own this leadership, you do nothing. Leadership has nothing to do with titles or position or age and everything to do with action. Leaders do. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much you get paid, it is what you do that matters.

Fear or insecurity will come at you hard while you are stepping into this new leadership opportunity. You’ll also have an opportunity to use your inexperience as an excuse. The fear will tell you that you don’t know what you are doing and that mistakes will be made. The fear is right but that shouldn’t stop you. Get over this pursuit of perfection. No one changes anything by trying to be perfect. Things change when leaders are faithful. Stop waiting on permission or using the lack of it as an excuse for inaction. Quit undermining those above you just because you don’t understand their responsibility. Don’t hesitate and hide behind your inexperience when you should be leading.

This guest post was written by Josh Tandy. Josh has a great blog called Rookie Pastor that is a great resource for young leaders. I encourage you to check his site out and read more of his content there. Also, follow Josh and Rookie Pastor on twitter @Josh_Tandy and @rookiepastor.

Guest Post: Five Leadership Lessons that I Learned from Lincoln

I have always been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln. I first read about him in grammar school.  I remember my very first book and was intrigued with the pictures of a tall lanky young Lincoln. I was captivated as I learned about a boy from humble beginnings with a strong work ethic who defied the odds and changed the world.

Since that time I have read numerous books on Lincoln, perhaps more than on any other one individual. Even now I have two books that I plan to read this year. There have been 16,000 books published on Lincoln–125 on the assassination alone–more than any other American. It appears my fascination is shared.

There also have been volumes written about or extracted from Lincoln’s life on the topic of leadership. But, as I stated, I am intrigued by him and his abilities to lead. He even learned from those who were his greatest critics. So at the risk of redundancy here are:

5 Leadership Lessons that I Learned from Lincoln

  1. His leadership was a demonstration of his character. Repeatedly I have read how he was challenged, criticized or disregarded, but it did not change the way he led. Lincoln knew who he was and what he believed and acted upon it.
  2. He was not afraid to make the hard decisions even if they were not popular. His decision to abolish slavery was principled and costly, but he did not flinch.
  3. He was wise and mature enough to draw wisdom from everyone including his detractors and even his enemies.  I suggest every leader read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin to see how Lincoln led with adversaries.
  4. His family was a high priority and had access to him. I remember reading accounts of his sons running into the Oval Office during “Meetings of State” to see their father and knowing they had that right.
  5. He never forgot where he came from which helped him maintain a keen sense of awareness of people. Even as President he was mindful of individuals and never seemed to be too taken with himself.

I do not believe Abraham Lincoln was the perfect leader. He did not make all the right decisions, but no leader does. His faith was important to him, but he was not the perfect Christian; however, his faith was one of the guiding forces of his life. I just know that every time I read another book about him I am inspired and challenged to be better than I am right now.

This guest post was written by Mike Calhoun. Mike is the Vice President of Word of Life. Mike has written many books and resources, most recent being 8 Reasons Why I’m Not a Christ. He also enjoys writing, teaching, and speaking. Click here to check out more of his thoughts on his blog.

The Hardest Person to Lead

In leadership, the hardest person to lead is not other people, but it is ourselves. We can see that even Paul faced the frustration of trying to lead himself well. In Romans 7:15, Paul says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Even though Paul faced the struggle of trying to lead himself well, he knew the importance of leading himself well and what was at stake if he did not. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” We too, need to understand the importance of leading ourselves well and realizing what is at stake if we do not.

Personal commitments determine the direction I lead myself. The direction I lead myself determines how I lead others.

From the statement above, we see that personal commitments is the starting place of leading ourselves well. The results of leading ourselves well is being able to lead others well. In order to lead yourself well, you must be committed to six things:

1. Commitment to love Christ supremely (Matthew 22:37). In Christian leadership, it’s easy to fall in love with the work of Christ more than the person of Christ. We must make sure we love Christ more than everything, even ministry! Our commitment to love Christ supremely is the foundation and driving force to all other commitments. Without it we become legalistic.

2. Commitment to unwavering integrity (Proverbs 10:9). Is there an area of your life, if brought into light, would damage your testimony? In his book, Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs says that people don’t follow ministry’s mission or vision statement for very long, they follow you. Personal integrity is the foundation to leadership.

3. Commitment to live a disciplined life (Proverbs 6:6-9). One of the most neglected areas of many Christians life’s, especially Christian leaders, is physical discipline. We focus so much time on”spiritual disciplines,” which are important, we neglect physical discipline. We don’t take care of ourselves physically the way we should. We must commit to spiritual disciplines and physical disciplines.

4. Commitment to having a teachable spirit (Proverbs 19:20). Part of leading yourself well is being able to stay teachable. Once a leader a leader stops learning and growing, their leadership will level out. Leaders must intentionally seek Godly counsel, surround themselves with leaders who are better than them in certain areas, respond graciously to criticism, and read good books.

5. Commitment to personal accountability (Proverbs 27:17). You cannot lead yourself well alone. You cannot remain focused spiritually alone. You cannot live a holy life alone. You need accountability in your life! Who in your life asks you the “hard question”” or will tell you the honest truth? Awhile back, I wrote a post called “How Leaders Can Prevent Moral Failure BEFORE it Happens” and in that post I said one of the best ways to prevent moral failure in leadership is to have accountability in your life. The leader who does not have accountability in their life is asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position.

6. Commitment to push outside of your comfort zone (Matthew 14:29). Often, leaders tend to settle. Leaders must have a God-sized dream for their ministry or organization. A good question to ask yourself to see if you have a God-sized dream or not is this: Do you have it all figured out, or does your dream push you to your knees in prayer?

It’s important leaders take these commitments serious. Until leaders learn how to lead themselves well, they will always struggle at leading others well.

I do not take credit for the majority of these thoughts. Majority of this post comes from a workshop lead by Chris Finchum at a recent Word of Life Associate School Conference. You can find Chris on Twitter @chrisfinchum.