Team Lesson

The people who are least involved in the process tend to demand the most of your leadership resources 

Having just returned from a team meeting, I was again reminded about the importance of every individual’s engagement in the development and implementation of a shared vision. We have a reasonably well developed leadership structure in what is essentially a volunteer organisation (a church community). The nature of voluntary involvement means that not everyone will be at the team meetings all of the time. I was reminded tonight that those who are less engaged in the process require so much more time from core leadership:

  • They  need to be reminded about the core values more than other team members
  • They need to be reminded more than others about the real meaning of the vision
  • They need to be assured more regularly that they are a meaningful part of the team. They may experience considerable self doubt
  • They will struggle to implement strategies that the team has developed

Consequence: As a leader it will be harder to bring them along with you. I wonder whether there’s something like an 80/20 rule here: 20% of your team will tend to attract 80% of you attention – or something like that? I suppose there are also some hard economies: someone who regularly chooses not to engage is probably the wrong person for that area of service or ministry. They may need to consider their place in the team.

Here is an uncomfortable tension: You straddle being a shepherd and a leader. Both qualities are demanded of you, but they are sometimes so hard to harmonise…


The role of desire in vision realisation

What is the relationship between vision and desire? We spent some time talking about this last night

The team discussed the vision of the church: “To see the city of Redlands become a community of hope”. This is essentially a vision that looks outside of who we are. We are not here for ourselves primarily, we are here to engage in God’s mission in our community. We are here not just for people who already know who Jesus is, we are also here for those who do not know him, and who may come to know him in the future.

The team discussed the necessary tensions that this involves. We cannot just concentrate on programs and ministry for the people who are already part of the church. We need to give our mind to mission and outreach. But here’s the rub: you cannot do mission and outreach without nurturing and developing the church family. Nor can you nurture and develop the church family without engaging in effective mission and outreach. The two work together, drawing people into balanced and holistic forward movement.

This is captured in Jesus commission to the church:


Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


We have tried to capture this in our mission statement as well: “Glorify God by nurturing the church to maturity in order to bring others to Christ.”


Our discussion then returned to the vision, and we discussed what ‘a community of hope’ might look like in broad terms. We identified the following as indicative that our vision was coming to expression in the community in general. It would be a community where the following would be clearly seen:

·         Vital and prevailing churches

·         Friendly caring people

·         Loving families

·         A thriving, just and compassionate community which seeks to bless and serve others


We then asked what general barriers we might encounter as we seek to realise this vision, and the team suggested


·         Time – we’re very busy people and the demands on time often mean we just cannot do all the things we want to do

·         Finance –we live in a very blessed part of the world, and the demographic of our church family is largely one where people are financially comfortable, thought not without a lot of persistent hard work. Our budget is healthy, but it’s no cake walk. Financial constraints will sometimes limit what we can do

·         Skills – we have talented group of people with many well developed skills. Even so, training and development are required, and sometimes we do not have the skills we need to complete certain tasks

·         Desire – we identified this as the biggest barrier to realising our vision. It is really our desire? Does it live in our hearts? Is it our passion?


Interestingly, if our resources pull up short when it comes to time, or finance, or skills, it will always be desire that will drive us to realise the vision. We may not end up with a perfect result, but desire will have us try, and try hard. The thing to note is that even if we have enough time, finance and skills, if the desire is not there, little will be achieved. Desire is the greatest fuel to realising vision, and lack of desire is also the greatest impediment to the vision.


So when it comes to making hard choices about whether to take a new hill, or break new ground, or implement a new strategy, the thing that will have us push through discomfort and pain will be our desire to see the vision achieved. For followers of Jesus, the focal point for desire is the love of God expressed in the Gospel, and God’s own commitment to bring his restored and transformed world into existence.


That’s what Paul said: 2 Co 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.


And again: 2 Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.