Teams and Teamwork: Part One

teamwork with graphicA new report authored by Warren Byrd and Ryan Hartwig from Leadership Network and Azusa Pacific University shows the results of surveying 125 church teams last year to get their input about what works and what doesn’t work in their experience. Their report provides insight on 5 proven indicators of successful teams, their top 10 findings, and 7 suggestions to strengthen your team.

Their 5 proven indicators are:

  1. Being a real work team, rather than a team in name only. Such a team has a stable membership, and high levels of interdependence among members.
  2. A clear, compelling, and consequential direction for the team’s work.
  3. An enabling team structure with well-designed team tasks, norms, and composition.
  4. An organizational context that offers necessary reward, information, material, and educational resources.
  5. Access to expert internal or external coaching in teamwork.

You can access the entire report here:

The findings of the report may or may not be surprising to you. However, if you take another look at the 5 proven indicators of successful teams, I think you’ll discover that Jesus modeled them all with his team of 12 disciples, his senior leadership team. And he did so organically, without access to any of the technology, bureaucracy, curriculum, charts, or institutional metrics that we utilize today. He didn’t even have an office, virtual or otherwise. I’ve included a chapter on teams and teamwork in my upcoming book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation. The book will be available the last part of April, 2013. I’ve included an excerpt below in this post and will include Part 2 in my next post.

Blank white book w/pathRegardless of the type of farm, the overall operation rises and falls on the harvest. A successful mission or season of farming depends upon the harvest. Staying on mission means focusing on properly executing all of the steps necessary to bring in the harvest. Every farmer knows that if he fails to bring in the harvest, no matter how good he may have been in planting, weeding, or pest control, he has failed.

Although we seldom used the word, virtually everything we did on the farm involved teamwork. Family members, which included at times extended family members, worked together to accomplish tasks that would have been impossible for any one of us to do alone. From bringing in the hay, to building a barn, to cutting and wrapping meat or canning produce or hauling firewood, we worked together.

When there were really big projects to accomplish, such as building a bigger barn or building, we often worked with neighbors as well. Together, we toiled and everyone did his or her part to accomplish the goal. There existed no particular hierarchy, with middle-aged men working alongside teenagers or senior citizens, each doing what he or she could do best according to their own level of skill or expertise. Artisans with years of experience willingly and without cost patiently taught younger members of the team skills that would greatly enhance their lives with the expectation that they, in turn, would train another person down the road. Thus, healthy tradition and craftsmanship continued on in an organic fashion, without bureaucratic paperwork or organizational bylaws.

Jesus showed us how teams work. He never appointed a committee or chaired a board meeting, but he was the undisputed leader. He led by example and did not try to micromanage his disciples’ activities. He empowered them to succeed and encouraged them when they failed and coached them when they needed to take the next steps in the journey. (From Chapter 13: Teamwork Makes Harvest Possible, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation, Deep River Books, ©2013 Don Detrick)

One thought on “Teams and Teamwork: Part One

  1. Jeff riley

    That number indicator really hit home with me. I have often wondering in a church staff atmosphere do we really work as a team because we have weekly meetings and come together on Sunday’s for service? We all have our titles pastor of this and pastor of that and those are our areas where we work with the people under our leadership. What if we aligned our responsibilities as a pastoral staff by our strengths instead of our title? As an illustration just because I am the children’s pastor do I really need to do everything for the children’s department alone? Or if there is another pastor who has a strength in an area that I do not. What if he partnered with me in that area and I used my strengths to partner with him in an area he is weak? What would it look like if we blur the lines of responsibility a little bit and allowed others to team with us in our ministries without feeling threatened or feeling like we are not enough to do the job on our own? Just something I have been chewing on…..


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