Moving to Ministry Teams
by Derek Gentle

At our church we are looking into moving to ministry teams. We already have about a million committees, but our enlistment process leaves us with people on the committees who don't know their role and who sometimes didn't know they were on the committee. We could simply improve our committee enlistment process for the committees, but why not go all the way and transition to ministry teams?

I had been hearing about teams, but I had trouble getting a handle on the difference between committees and teams. What's the difference between a committee that practices teamwork and a team? Some of them sound cute, but they aren't "concrete." My spirit says, "I know what you mean," but it's not specific enough to explain. Here are a couple of examples:

Committees tend to create bureaucrats; teams create ministers.

Committees do church work; ministry teams do the work of the church.

Some of the distinctions I found seemed to make it a little clearer:

Often, committees are groups that have meetings and make decisions which decide the actions of other people. In contrast, Ministry Teams are groups that actually do ministry.

Committees require the church to start with the positions and find the people to fill them; Teams start with the people and build the ministries around their gifts.

Teams are more intentionally results oriented.

Teams are more dedicated to blending varying talents in trying to achieve their goals.

Teams consciously utilize spiritual gifts. In the old committee structure, spiritual gifts are often irrelevant.

With teams, the church is not crippled by the departure of any one person, especially a solo styled leader. We all have seen the committee where the chairman, in deed and in truth, functions as the committee.

These are all generalizations, of course. And the term, team is not a magic word or even a biblical term. There are many church committees that could accurately be described as a team. Youth Committees in many churches are a common example. Together they are responsible to carry out a ministry. The members personally minister. They plan their work together; everyone has a say in the planning process. Everyone has specific responsibilities. They review their work and seek improvements. No matter what you call it, it's a team. The point of moving to teams, and of calling them teams, is say that this is what is expected... it is to "do that on purpose."

Even though teams are often used in business, and business terms and methods are often brought to church, the team concept is biblical enough:

"Dependent on Him, the whole body-- its various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another-- grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part, so as to build itself up in a spirit of love." Ephesians 4:16 (Weymouth)

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" 1st Corinthians 12:4-7

"My brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier" Philippians 2:25

Here is an abbreviated rough draft which we are considering in our move to teams:

1. There will be three kinds of teams: Ministry Teams, Service Teams, and Teaching Teams. A ministry team carries out a concerted ministry for the church. A Service Team's work is periodic, easily rotated, or requires little planning time (sound crew). A Teaching Team is one which provides leadership in the Sunday Morning Bible Study or in training disciples.

2. Team Task Directives for each shall be approved by the church. The Team Task Directive states the team's Scope of Ministry (Youth, grades 7-12, Homebound, etc.), Basic Objectives (no more than four), General Responsibilities, and Indicators of Success.

3. Each Team will have a Leader who is the responsible "make things happen" person.

4. Some Ministerial Staff Members relate to teams as advisors and a team could exist to undergird the work of a ministerial staff member, but staff members will not serve as Team Leaders. The ministerial staff exists, "To equip the saints for the work of ministry" (Ephesians 4:11, RSV).

5. Each Team Member is selected by the Team Leader in consultation with the Pastor (and other ministerial staff members whom the pastor may deem appropriate).

Team Members will be selected for each team with their specific natural abilities and Spiritual Gifts in mind. No one is placed on a team to make them feel included, to fill a slot, or to put a name on a list. Teams will not have more members than is necessary to do the job. When an individual can do the job alone, a team will not be used. There will be no ex officio members of Ministry Teams.

6. Each team member is personally enlisted by the Team Leader.

7. Teams will have three to five members.

8. Teams are to involve from the church body in the ministries for which they are responsible.

9. When Team Members are enlisted, the leader will discuss with them the Team's Task Directive.

10. Each team's work will support the Mission Statement and Church Principles of First Baptist Church. Teams will be accountable to the church body.

11. Within the scope of the Team Task Directive, each Team plans its own work as the Holy Spirit leads.

12. Each team shall produce and sign its own action plan.

13. Team membership is for a term of one year, but terms are renewable, though not guaranteed. Ministry Teams, Service Teams, and Teaching Teams are distinguished. No one may serve on more than one from any category and more than two teams total. No one may serve as Team Leader for more than two consecutive years on the same Ministry Team.

14. Teams will regularly gather to evaluate the effectiveness of their work and to measure their progress and report to the church.

15. Teams are expected to continually seek training and to hone their skills. How much training, how often will vary with the nature of the ministry of the team.

15. At the end of their terms each year, team members will be asked to complete a self-evaluation. This questionnaire (to be seen only by the team member) will include these four questions:

(1) Am I in Fellowship? -- with Jesus
(2) Am I being Faithful? -- in my place of service
(3) Am I being Fruitful? -- and seeing "Grace Results"?
(4) Am I being Fulfilled? -- or is it time for a change in my service?

The Team Members will then return a reply card (which will go to the pastor) expressing whether they would like to be considered by the incoming Team Leader for another term or if they have interest in pursuing another area of ministry.

It is to be expected that changes will be made from time to time to keep fresh people in places of service, to prevent burnout, and to help people experience well-rounded growth.

Online Resources for Ministry Teams:
Team Building - Fuller's Ministry Advantage Online!
Unleashing the Church Through Lay Leadership - Barna
Awareness of Spiritual Gifts Is Changing - Barna
Discovering our Spiritual Gifts by Rich Schoenert
Designed for a Meaningful Life - sermon series by Rich Schoenert
Spiritual Gift Analysis
Spiritual Gift Test - Brook Hills
Spiritual Gift Test - Elmer Towns

First Baptist Ministry Team Materials:
In Word format
Overview of Ministry Teams
with bibliography for this set of materials
Why Teams?
Team Leader
Team Task Directives
Bylaw Amendment & Effects on Present Structure

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