Avoiding 5 most common disfunctions of ministry teams

From the most recent issue of Leadership, Ministry Team Diagnostics: How to avoid the 5 most common dysfunctions of a ministry team (by Nancy Ortberg). [I’ve seen these almost everywhere I’ve been, and thought this is a healthy reminder for all of us.]

1. Distrust

Trust forms the foundation for everything else that happens on a team. Interestingly, though, I think ministry teams assume trust rather than work on building trust. Stop for a minute and think: can you name five things you have intentionally done in the last month to build trust on your team? . . .

2. Fear of Conflict

Of all the organizations we work with, churches tend to be the worst at engaging in conflict in an open and honest way.  Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that Jesus was a Mr. Rogers character who just walked around with beautifully permed hair, blessing everyone. One look at the Gospels will tell you that Jesus was a walking defining moment. His call for transformation was often imbedded in rather terse and direct language. . .

. . . Avoiding conflict almost guarantees that we will fail to build relationally deep teams, and that we will be unable to make the best decisions for the organization. When teams don’t engage in healthy, passionate, unfiltered debate around the most important issues, they inject more politics into the organization and make mediocre decisions that will deliver mediocre results. . .

. . .conflict is basically energy, and when it is not dealt with directly, it goes somewhere else. Unaired conflict goes into the parking lot or behind closed doors. It becomes “malicious compliance” and results in artificial harmony, not deep community. Conflict isn’t pleasant, but it’s your necessary friend. Do not avoid it; insist on it.

[The key here is healthy conflict built on trust.]

3. Inability to Make a Commitment

Ever left a meeting wondering what, if anything, was actually decided? Ever lead one of those meetings? Healthy teams know when it is time to make a commitment, and they do it. There are no perfect decisions, but there are good and great ones. At the end of an appropriate amount of debate, there comes a time to decide and to plant the flag. . .

4. Avoidance of Accountability

5. Inattention to results

As leaders in the church, we understand that results are not completely in our hands. We are not ultimately responsible for everything. However that is very different from saying that it is okay to rationalize the fact that the ministry is not moving forward because of our poor or misguided efforts.

Great leaders perform autopsies on poor results. They are constant learners and listen to God, as best they can, and relentlessly pursue doing things better and more effectively. They are passionate about results, because results affect people. Sometimes results are people.

. . . What could we have done differently? What did we learn from this, for future decisions? Has this ministry been allowed to go past its prime, and is there, perhaps, a new and better way? These are the questions of a team that build great ministries that deeply impact people for Christ.

Read the whole article here.

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