Ed. note: If you've served in the church for any time at all, you've not doubt experienced changes and will experience many more in the times to come. In this encouraging article, Gayle helps us see how to make the most of the most challenging changing times.
In September 2011 the Hartford Institute for Religion Research released a new decade-long survey of congregations in the United States. It will come as no surprise to you that the past ten years have brought enormous changes throughout religious communities.
One disturbing conclusion is that median weekend worship in all sizes of congregations has significantly declined since the 2000 survey. Along with the drops in attendance was a significant decline in financial resources.
Still, despite fewer dollars and fewer people, a lot of churches—large and small—are doing some things quite well. One example: the vast majority of congregations have implemented electronic communications. More than 40 percent even use social networks like Facebook to keep in touch with congregants. These congregations and their leaders realize surviving and thriving in challenging times doesn’t just happen.
Now, perhaps more than ever, success in ministry demands a strong ministry team—the kind of team every ministry assistant would like to be a part of, the kind of team distinguished by specific attributes.
• The leader leads.
Every church office team needs a captain. In most cases this is the pastor. In the best teams, the captain respects the professionalism of all team members and values their contributions to ministry. The pastor serves as a positive example in dedication, demeanor, and devotion. The leader plays by the same rules expected of others.
• All are committed to the team.
Staff members share a vision for ministry. They work together to set goals and achieve them; they care more about the success of the team than about personal recognition. Regular staff meetings and retreats foster friendships and camaraderie.
• Showing appreciation is in.
What hasn’t changed is that all of us still like to know our efforts are appreciated. In excellent teams praise is frequent and sincere. People look for the things others do right, not the things done wrong. Each seeks to be a positive role model to fellow team members. When the team does well, all share the applause. When it doesn’t, all share the fallout.
• Conflict is managed.
Few groups work together without a few wrinkles along the way. Christian professionals show maturity by acknowledging their differences and working through them. Never take criticism personally. Maintain a businesslike attitude and overlook petty differences. You are an adult; you can manage your conflicts.
• The team prays together.
If daily prayer is important to our individual well-being, is prayer not equally vital to the team managing the administrative tasks of the church? Taking time to pray together focuses the team and keeps members on target.
• Communication is key.
It is amazing what can be accomplished when ideas are freely exchanged and explored, when people are more concerned with getting things done than with getting credit. Excellent teams create that kind of workplace.
Members not only share ideas, they share information which allows others to do their work well. They are open to new ways to minister effectively in today’s changing environment.
Time always brings change. Do more with less? You can do it. Developing team skills is a good place to start.
We don’t know what the future holds—but we know who holds the future.
If you'd like to read more about the study quoted in the article above, go to: http://hirr.hartsem.edu