>>Working Together in Ministry: Pastors and Leaders Share Their Views
Most pastors and leaders in the church would say, “Yes, we want more good helpers!” But what makes a good helper and how do leaders develop them? In this issue, pastors address questions and issues about staff and volunteers, and offer solutions that can build up a ministry’s workforce—so we can all work together effectively for God.
(See our Spring/Summer 2007 issue for part one of this article: “Staff and Volunteers Share Their Views.”)
Develop People’s Potential // Tim Horton (’85, ’86) //
>Tim Horton (’85, ’86) Pastor Tim Horton (’85, ’86) brings a unique perspective to the table. Instead of buying into the idea of waiting for the right people to come along and help, he suggests developing the people we already have. Tim and his wife, Angela, pioneered their first church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1999. In 2005, they turned that church over to another pastor and started their second church, Faith Builders Family Church, in Rogers, Arkansas.
As pastors, we need to be interested in seeing people rise to the top,” Tim says. “We must help them develop their potential. In order to be able to delegate ministry work, we must be sure to develop the potential in people’s lives.
“I once heard a story that illustrates this,” Tim adds. “It’s about two young men around the turn of the century. Their father was on his deathbed, and he kept mumbling, ‘The stump lot, the stump lot.’ The boys had always thought their dad had gold buried somewhere, so after he died, they got the pick and shovel and went to the stump lot to hunt for the gold. They dug for days and finally had the whole stump lot cleared, but they didn’t find any gold at all. “One of the brothers said, ‘What are we going to do now?’ The other answered, ‘Well, we already have the ground dug up, and it’s springtime. Why don’t we go ahead and plant some seed out here?’ So they planted corn, and in the fall, they discovered a field full of ‘gold’ corn.”
Tim relates this story to his own experiences as a leader: “I had this preconceived idea as a pastor that God was going to send me ‘gold’—quality people with everything already in place. I fi gured their marriages would be wonderful, and their family situation would be wonderful, and they would have all the qualifications for leadership. “But the Lord ended up giving me a stump lot. The point of the story is: Don’t look for the people who are already developed. Take who God gives you, and develop their potential.”
For Tim, this truth is a key to successful leadership. “You’ll often get people in your church who didn’t fit in anywhere else,” he
notes. “And you are going to have to have the heart and patience to develop those whom God has sent to you—your stump lot. So get busy developing those people.”
>>TIPS FOR DEVELOPING PEOPLE
• Be patient. “Don’t expect people to grow up overnight,” says Tim. “It takes time for people to grow out of the babyhood stage of Christianity to the childhood stage and on into maturity. Realize that the people whom God sends you are the ones that He will use throughout your ministry. He will use the anointing on your life to develop them, so that they can stand in a place where you can delegate to them and they can shoulder the responsibility. Together, you can do what God has called you to do as a church.”
• There are no perfect helpers. “Jesus Himself had trouble with His own staff ,” says Tim. “If He’d chosen the 12 disciples based on modern methods of leadership selection, most of them wouldn’t have made the cut. God chooses people not for who they are, but for who they can become. You’re in your position because apparently the Lord saw something in you. Now you have a responsibility to have that same attitude with other people. Believe in them, develop the potential in them, and love them.”
• Make sure everyone knows how to get involved. “Make it a part of your church family culture that everyone gets involved in helping,” says Tim. “To do that, you have to make sure that everyone who comes to your church knows the way things ow. For example, they have to know that in order to get involved, they must take a foundational truths class first, then move from there to some helps ministry training, and then get plugged in. When that happens, you have been a blessing to them, because they are being pro table with their life, serving others, and being a blessing in the Kingdom of God.”
• Don’t promote people too quickly. “Instead of putting people into positions of authority too fast, get to know them first,” Tim advises. “If you’ll wait until the Spirit of God leads you, you’ll save yourself a lot of problems. Just because people have gifts or natural abilities, it doesn’t mean that the right heart is there. God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. Don’t look for a person who necessarily has all the qualifications—God can add those. Instead, look for people with the right heart to serve. If someone is going to be in a position to influence others, then they need to have proven themselves.”
A Method for Choosing Leaders // Andy White //
Andy (’89, ’91) White: Getting people to help is one thing—promoting people into leadership positions is another. Andy White (’89, ’91) has some insight into what to look for when you’re considering some one for leadership. Andy serves as Regional Director of the Southwest Region of RMAI, and he and his wife JoAnn (’90, ’91) pastor Faith Family Church in Chandler, Arizona.
Andy explains his technique for choosing leaders this way: “When I’m looking to put people into leadership positions within the church—whether paid or unpaid—I use an acronym, C.A.S.T., to evaluate their qualifications: Character, Anointing, Skill
set, and Team skills.
“First, Character has to be proven, and you can’t tell right away when you meet someone if that person has character or not. Get people involved in small activities first and watch to see how they react under pressure or when things don’t go their way. Take your time and give them ample opportunity to prove themselves. “Anointing is the ability to connect with God. Ask yourself: Does this person get life from what they do? When I did children’s church every Sunday at RHEMA Bible Church, I got life out of it. “The third quality I’m looking for is Skill set. Does this person have the skills for the job? Are they capable of learning the needed skills?
“The fourth area to evaluate is Team skills. Can this person build and work with a team? When it comes to building a team, I want my leaders to eventually have the ability to recruit (find volunteers), staff (get people into position and explain the job to them), train (teach people how to do the job), then motivate and correct. A leader has to be able to do all those things. Not everyone does them equally well, but those are the skills I’m aiming for.
“I’m not expecting people to have all those qualities perfectly in place, because I’m going to be training them and raising them up as leaders. But I have to be seeing some of those qualities, or the potential for their development. If a person is missing some of those abilities, I may still put them in a position, but I know in advance that I’ve either got to train them how to do it, or compensate for it.”
>>TIPS FOR DEVELOPING LEADERS
• Mistakes to avoid. Andy says, “There were two big mistakes I made in dealing with people in supportive ministries when I first started out. First, I didn’t prove their character before assigning them to levels of leadership. Second, I assigned people into leadership who couldn’t build a team. I had one guy who had great character and was anointed and skilled to work with people, but he couldn’t build a team. He wouldn’t ask anyone to help because he wanted to do everything himself. He ended up feeling overworked and persecuted, not to mention that he didn’t develop anyone else to do the work of the ministry.”
>Authority. Be aware that when you give authority or privileges to someone and then take it away, you’re going to have a fight
on your hands. Carefully consider things in advance before handing over authority.
>A definition of leadership. To be able to evaluate whether you are successfully developing your leaders, you’ll need a good
definition of what leadership is. First, a Christian leader is a servant (Matt. 20:25 –26, John 13:1–17). Second, the distinguishing mark of a Christian leader versus a non-Christian leader is godly character. Third, Christian leaders know where they are going. They need both a ministry mission (Matt. 29:19–20) and a ministry vision (a clear, compelling picture from their pastor as to what the church will look like). Finally, Christian leaders have followers. If no one is following, we must examine ourselves to improve our leadership skills.
Increase Effectiveness With Teams // Matt Beemer //
Matt (’91, ’92) Beemer “Many hands make light work” may well be the motto of Matt Beemer (’91, ’92), who believes in developing teams to do every aspect of the work of the ministry. Matt and his wife, Julie, (’90, ’91) have lived in England since 1994, and in 1997 they pioneered World Harvest Bible Church and World Harvest Bible Training Center in Manchester.
From my perspective, we as pastors often drastically under-use the resources sitting in our congregations,” says Matt Beemer. “We can be so ‘teaching heavy,’ yet only 20 percent of the people are involved in helping. We haven’t given them ownership.”
Matt has found a way to change that. “I like working with teams of people,” he says. “When I want to start something, I get a team of people together to talk about it. I’ll cast the vision, and then let them get on with the discussion for a few weeks or months. I’ll come back every so often and see how they’re doing. They usually far exceed what I ever thought of. And best of all, they have the ownership of it.”
Matt uses teams in every area of ministry at WHBC. “We have one team that meets every two weeks to look at the process of what happens from when a person fi rst hears about the church until they come to visit and return again. The team is constantly refi ning that process of welcoming and integrating newcomers and making it better.
According to Matt, getting people involved in teams divides up the work, increases the ministry’s effectiveness, gets more people using their gifts, and also means they don’t have to quit their day jobs.
“I believe we can have volunteers in places of responsibility,” he says. “Many of us haven’t believed that. We’ve thought that we have to hire people to staff the church. But if you’re working with a team perspective, you can get 10 people to work four hours a week, and that’s 40 hours of work. That way, too, if someone leaves, it doesn’t hurt the organization as much.”
“I used to be focused on getting people into full-time ministry, but I’m starting to change that point of view,” says Matt. “I think it actually helps our staff to be bi-vocational. For example, a member of my team might be a dentist. Instead of taking him out of his working-world culture—with all his contacts and relationships—and bringing him into our church culture full-time, we can put him into a volunteer position a couple days a week.
“By leaving him to work in the dentist office the other few days, he can make a living, infl uence more people, and still have an impact on the church. In fact, I think it would be very helpful for even some pastors to work a secular job one day a week, so they don’t lose touch with the lost and with everyday life.”
Working with teams also allows more creativity. “When you have more people involved, they can develop an idea better,” says Matt. “I think that we need to listen to people and allow them to have input. Sometimes we’re too controlling, and we think there is only one way to skin the cat, when there are actually a lot of different ways to get the same result. And sometimes, other people’s ways are better than ours!”
TIPS FOR FORMING TEAMS
• Coaches and leaders. “We use a sports analogy for our management structure,” says Matt. “We have ‘coaches,’ who are like elders or assistant pastors. Beneath coaches, we have ‘team leaders,’ who are like department heads. Coaches oversee several team leaders, and they not only recruit, but then mentor and disciple their leaders and build teams. My goal as pastor is to support the coaches in their jobs, and their goal is to coach the teams in their various areas.”
• Communicating. “When you’re working with teams or staff, the three most important things are ‘communication, communication, communication,’” says Matt. “This is especially true with volunteers. They’re not onsite all the time, and they feel the most isolated, so you have to try to over-communicate with them. One thing I ask people to do is copy me in on all e-mails, which allows me to have an understanding of what’s going on through the whole ministry. I can just look and delete, or I can e-mail back to say, ‘Keep up the good work,’ or to mention something specific.”
• Meetings. “When we first started the church, we had a team leaders’ meeting once a month after service, eating a meal together,” says Matt. “There were about 10 of us, and we would talk over things. I was the coach at that point. But over time, that group got too big. Now, when we meet, I communicate vision to everyone, give them an assignment to work on, and then let them break off into their teams and work on things. I’ve been surprised at how it’s allowed them to own their areas of ministry, and that’s been incredibly valuable.”