Teams, Not Committees
“Committee” is a Curse Word
Have you ever seen the popular sign that says, “For God so loved the word that he did not send a committee”? That is cute and funny, but it is also true. Jesus did not come to set up a bureaucracy but to call a team of twelve people around him, to train them and to send them out as a team to turn the world right side up!
One of the first recommendations I have for a church determined to live and act as a teaming church is this: If at all possible, get rid of the word “committee”. I know that in some cases this may require a change in the verbiage of your church constitution and in some cases it is not possible, but here’s my rationale: Many people have come to view committees in churches, and often in businesses and government, as the sure-fire way to kill any good idea. Unfortunately, they often see a committee as something you “sit” on instead of “serve” with. So, if your congregation and constitution will support it—change from the word “committees” to “teams” or “action groups”. Or, at least, start to informally refer to the committee as a team. If you cannot officially lose the C-word, at least determine that you are going to train your committees how to function like true teams. The church will thank you for it. In what ways do functional “committees” and vibrant “teams” tend to differ?
Too often, while:
Committees talk about doing things,
Teams actually get things done;
Committees seek to hear every voice,
Teams seek to become one voice;
Committees share their opinions,
Teams share their lives;
Committees have a chairman,
Teams have a coach-leader-facilitator;
Committees take notes,
Teams measure results;
Committees talk about issues,
Teams strategize for results;
(Just one more. Sorry, I couldn’t resist sharing this one.)
Teaming is a Mindset
People who become great team members and leaders possess a teaming mindset. The teaming mindset follows the pattern of Philippians 2, which says “put the interests of others before your own interests (Phil 2: 4).” Taking on a teaming mindset, then, involves obeying the call of Christ to “deny themselves.” (Luke 9:23) It requires living life, serving God, working in the church with an attitude that says, “It’s not about me!”
But, “me” often gets in the way of trying to do God’s will and serve in a true teaming manner. Here’s an important related statement I posted recently on Facebook: There are two kinds of people who walk into a room: those who walk in and say “Here I am!” and those who walk in and say, “There YOU are!”
Sounds pretty good, right? I sure thought so. Just as expected, the first person that responded to the post on Facebook responded with the words: “Love that …” I thought everyone else would respond in similar fashion. But, one person’s response on Facebook later that day challenged me to take this thought another step further – an important step. Here’s what the person wrote:
Add a third [statement]: “Here WE are.”
Wow! “Here WE are.” Of course! How simple. How important. How biblical. How did I forget to add that one? Do you want to know “how”? An eleven-letter word: S-E-L-F-I-S-H-N-E-S-S—or, if you prefer, a four-letter word: S-E-L-F. “Self” is the enemy of community, the enemy of the church, the enemy of the Kingdom of God and the enemy of biblical teams and teaming.
In order to build great teams, we have to change the way we think. We have to move from “Here I am” and “There you are” to “Here WE are”.
It must be bigger than any one individual and it must be absolutely compelling. It must not only be big enough to convince us that we cannot do it without the other team members and their help, ideally it should also be big enough to convince the team that they cannot do it without God’s help!
The word team comes from the Latin root deuk, which means “to pull” or “to draw.” In a real sense, teams are groups of people who pull together to reach a common goal. Church teams or teams of Christ-followers are groups of people who pull together to reach a common goal for the sake of Christ. They are the people pulling not only for their church or organization, but pulling for each other, and pulling for their shared potential in life and ministry.
Teaming is not only an important skill for Christian leaders and workers, it is fast becoming the skill of the age. The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently commissioned a study to determine the most needed skills for today’s graduates to thrive in the current world and economy.
What is the top skill on the list? Innovation?
That is important, but is actually number five on the list.
Number four is being able to organize information.
Number three is oral and written communication.
Number two is critical thinking and reasoning.
And number one on the list is …
That’s right. To be specific, the report cited “teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings.” It's essential for work in today's world, and even moreseo in today's church.
This article is excerpted from The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration, coming in October from Abingdon Press. Used by permission.