Friday, July 25, 2008

Effective Team Ministry - Part 2

This is post 2 of 3 on the topic of Effective Team Ministry. If you wish to start with the first post on this study, go to the post that's dated July 19, 2008. To view a corresponding PowerPoint presentation as you read, go to: Effective Team PPT in a new window, enabling you to read and watch in side-by-side windows. Please note: this material was originally presented as a seminar for missionaries serving with Baptist Mid-Missions, which is based in Cleveland, OH. The material is copyrighted, but may be used with written permission obtained by writing: permission.

Slide 3 - Pitfalls of Teams/Bodies

Becoming part of a team does not signal the end of all work-related or ministry-related problems. By God's design, the advantages of working in teams do outweigh the potential pitfalls (more about this later in this post).Nevertheless, awareness of the pitfalls might help to prepare team members to not be overwhelmed by them when they become apparent. It also might assist team members in dealing with whatever pitfalls they encounter, or even in taking preemptive measures.

For example, the first pitfall found on slide 3 from Sally and O'Connor's (2006) list reads: Unrealistic expectations/inadequate understanding of team dynamics, roles, and expectations. It makes sense to counteract this pitfall preemptively by taking time to periodically review team dynamics and to clarify roles and expectations. Intentional orientation of new team members to improve understanding from the start also seems helpful. Similarly, effective teams will implement safeguards against "group think", which is the type of team dynamic that fails take advantage of critical data other than the facts and opinions held in common already by the team. Periodic team member and overall team evaluations might head off the entrenchment of any free riders. Finally, a conflict resolution policy based on guidelines consistent with biblical same-mindedness might assist the team with recalibrating when individual members stop cooperating and begin competing in ways detrimental to team effectiveness.

Slide 4 - Advantages of Teams/Bodies

The advantages of working in teams, though fewer in number on Sally and O'Connor's (2006) list, are nevertheless substantial. And they hardly require explanation, perhaps with the exception of the last of the four: less individual stress due to less individual accountability. The idea underlying this advantage relates to the impossibility of individuals accomplishing some tasks, goals, or strategies without the assistance of others. For example, imagine an individual Christian missionary being accountable all by himself to reach an entire nation with the Gospel. The stress would be unbearable. Thanks be to God, he places us in teams in order to immerse us in the resources, including human ones, necessary to do the work he call us to do.

Application and Discussion:

1. What other pitfalls of working in teams can you think of? Advantages?
2. Identify a positive and a not-so-positive experience of your own with working on a team. Discuss the impact these experiences had on you. What might teams that you work on in the future do to experience the advantages you've named? What might they do to avoid the pitfalls?
3. In chapter 8 of "Where Do We Go From Here: The Path To Biblically Resolving Conflict" a conflict resolution process is summarized. Which part of the process might be the most difficult for you to implement in a team setting? Which would be the easiest? Why so?
4. Read Deuteronomy 1:9-18. What else might be learned from the example of Moses about pitfalls and advantages of working in teams?

Next post: God's Plan For Organizing People


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