From Bill Easum

Ministry Teams report to different people in different size churches. In small church to the pastor. In a large church to a variety of people. Core teams (those you cannot exist without) report to a staff person who also meets with them or stays in close touch with them. Other teams report to whomever you decide, a person or steering team.

Now, reporting is not a big issue in any case. One of the surest ways to ruin a team is to make it spend a lot of time reporting. Once they have their charge or mission to accomplish, let them do it. If they get in trouble or need help, they should let you know and seek additional help of info. Otherwise, let them be and do their thing. Remember, these are not committees. Nor are they just another word for committees. Committees report; teams do ministry. The need to report is another form of control. So is coordination. Teams who are following the DNA of the church (the mission statement) and simply helping to fulfill it do not need to report.   Teams that are not following or fulfilling the DNA should not be allowed to continue anyway. So, the need for reporting is almost Nile. Of course, someone needs to have a vague idea of where they are going and what they are working on. But that is about all. Trust the teams and you will be amazed at what God can do through them.

This is a paradigm issue here. The fact that the question is asked shows that they paradigm is either under stress or it is changing. It is hard to tell which at first.

Questions submitted to Bill on one of our listserves.

What level of pastoral support do teams need? One drawback of teams seems to be the multiplication of meetings.

Pastors and staff do not need to go to all team meetings. In fact they do not need to go unless they have something to contribute. teams are disrupted when someone comes in who is normally not there. Feeling the need to attend a team meeting is not much more than a sign of control or not trusting them to do the job or insecurity on the pastor’s part. Why do you think teams have been called “skunk work groups?” Because they are left alone as if they smelled badly.

How do teams dip into the church budget in the middle of the budget year?  Core teams have a line item in the budget. Other teams may or may not have any money. Some new teams are responsible for raising their own money outside the budget and maybe outside of the church. Many teams don’t even need a budget.

On the other hand, why does a budget have to be in concrete for an entire year? Why not have floating budgets? Why not have quarterly budgets? Why not review the budget regularly to see where adjustments need to be made?   Why have a budget in the first place? There is only one reason all of these questions seems strange – control and lack of trust. Church leaders do not trust one another enough to allow a floating process. We assume that everyone will act on their own without regard for the DNA (mission statement) of the Body.

What sort of process have you used to help church members find their place in a team appropriate to them.

Churches do not have a process to help people find their place within a team.   Leave that up to God, the DNA, and the passion of the leaders you are raising up. teams are put together by a person who has a passion for some project or mission. teams are not elected or nominated. They emerge as one person asks them to become part of their team to accomplish a very clear mission. Again, this is a paradigm issue. Asking the question betrays a strain on the paradigm.

Spiritual gift inventories are also helpful in team based ministries. Let people discover what God wants them to do, not the church. The church is not God. People need to be drawn to a team by their passion for the mission, their gifts, and their relationship to the team leader.

What pitfalls exist in the transition to teams that I might avoid?

The primary pitfall is assuming that teams are just another word for committees. The second pitfall is to tack teams on to a highly structured hierarchy and bureaucracy. Some of both have to be reduced for Teams to work. The third pitfall is a nominations method of governance.