“Am I really allowed to do this?” This statement has been heard more than once at the Winona Lake (Ind.) Grace Brethren Church (Bruce Barlow, lead pastor), when newer people have been invited to get involved in a ministry team. After being spectators in their churches for many years, people feel excitement when they become team members and realize that they are significant for the Lord.
Since its beginning the Enduring Visionary Leadership Community (EVLC) Leadership Development team has focused on Ephesians 4:11-16, helping churches take seriously their responsibility of equipping the saints for the ministry. By far the most effective approach has been the replacement of committees with ministry teams. The difference between teams and most committees is dramatic. Teams are open-ended, which means that you do not have to await the next business meeting to get elected. Further, in too many committees the extent of involvement is simply to attend a monthly meeting and listen to the chairman outline his agenda. Team members, however, have individual responsibilities, share a common purpose and are encouraged to show creativity and ownership. The bonding that occurs when people are working together to fulfill a ministry is deep and satisfying.
Few things are more effective in developing leaders than involvement in ministry teams. Most people think that leaders are produced by training them for ministry. We are finding that the most effective leaders are those that are trained in ministry, where training is seen as a natural component of serving. Involvement in ministry teams does two things: it enables us to discover our giftedness, and creates a thirst for learning. And beyond this, it allows the Lord to work through us in meeting the needs of others, both within and without the church.
If your church does not have active ministry teams, why wait. By this time next month you can have one or more teams up and running, meeting real needs. It might threaten some of your committees, but the excitement you will see on the faces of the team members will be well worth whatever effort you pour into it.
If you want some good reading in this subject, pick up George Barna’s The Power of Team Leadership, published by Water Brook. — by Tom Julien, chair of the EVLC Leadership Development team