Leadership Team Building

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Author: 
Dennis McCallum

Xenos home churches are led by teams of leaders instead of single leaders. Team leadership has a number of advantages, but can cause problems as well. A successful Home Church must maintain the unity of its leaders. Disunited leaderships are nearly always incapable of leading Home Church growth. The strength of relationships among leaders directly affects the quality of Home Church meetings. Strong Home Churches nearly always have leaderships with skilled encouragers and visionaries on board, and the maturity to work as a team. For all these reasons, it is essential that Home Church leaders learn to deal with their conflicts maturely and quickly. When working with fellow leaders, the following considerations are helpful.

  1. Encouraging fellow leaders
    1. Can you name personal characteristics you admire in each of your fellow leaders? If not, you need to spend time with God pleading for a more realistic and fair assessment of your colleagues.
    2. Can you name other leaders' accomplishments you appreciate for each leader? Again, pray for your eyes to be opened, and for the humility to admit others' value to the ministry.
    3. Have you articulated any of these points to your fellow leaders in person during the past two months? If not, you are grossly tardy in your encouraging role. They will find criticisms and advice hard to accept from you if you are weak in encouragement.
    4. Pray for vision for each of your fellow leaders. Ask God to show you why their unique contribution is important. Then look for an opportunity to express your vision to each in a non-showy and realistic fashion.
    5. Pray together for each other. Make your prayer times opportunities to review what God has bestowed on the church through each of your leaders, not just a time for fretting and problem solving.
  2. Resolving Personal Conflicts
    1. Take time to spell out and resolve conflicts as they arise. Help each other resolve personal problems.
    2. Encourage each other whenever possible. Controversy needs to be balanced with encouragement, kindness, and approval.
    3. Take time for positive social relating with other leaders. Spending time with your fellow leaders should be a priority
    4. If an unresolvable problem arises, seek help from your group's supervisor at the office.
    5. Leaders should agree on a realistic, hardworking standard for Home Church leadership. Leaders who are not living by such a standard should be criticized to their face, rather than behind their back, and challenged to step up.
    6. If you feel you must offer criticism to a fellow leader, your perception of any shortcomings on the part of other leaders should be objective, and serious. Avoid picking at each other for unimportant issues, which leads to a critical atmosphere.
    7. Observing the principle of the "man on the Spot".
      1. You should exercise extreme caution when you encounter negative thoughts regarding another leader's ministry work, especially if that work is carried on outside of your own cell. This is because the man (or woman) on the spot is the one who is usually best able to judge what is happening.
        The value of other leaders in this situation is mainly that of questioning the situation, rather than defining it. In other words, by a questioning process, the other leaders should bring out any doubts that they have about the ministry of the one on the spot. However, if the answers given are sensible and correspond with objective fact, they should be believed. Also, if a leader contradicts an account given by a member, we should be disposed to believe the leader over the member, according to I Timothy 5:19. However, the passage is actually about elders, and besides, other evidence may cause us to believe the member over the leader. We should certainly report any suspicious incident to our overseer.
        It will often be necessary to re-asses your impression after talking to the one on the spot. If doubt lingers, you should usually keep it to yourself until the situation is completely clarified. 
        Leaders should be very wary of tendencies found in most people to second guess other workers, and to feel that "I know best." We should be very reluctant to meddle in the decision making process of the leadership of another cell beyond questioning those leaders.
      2. All leaders should however, submit to questioning of their ministry by other leaders-- even questioning of a close nature. It is by being questioned that we reexamine our own position, and thus benefit from other leaders. 
        A leader who refuses to be questioned, or who takes offense at being questioned is displaying an immature attitude that contradicts team leadership. Such refusal becomes an issue in itself, and must be resolved before a reasonable level of cooperation can be expected. While any leader may react defensively at first, we have no excuse for continuing in such a posture. Ultimately, refusal to be questioned by fellow leaders is grounds for dismissal from leadership.
        Don't withdraw from a leader who flares up when questioned. This problem won't go away, and must be resolved at any cost. Get help from the office if needed.
    8. Commitment to success. Each Home Church leader should commit his/herself to the goal of seeing real success in the work of all of the other leaders. Unless we can honestly affirm that this is our goal, nothing we say is reliable.
    9. Communicating Respect. Other leaders should be viewed as colleagues, and treated with all due respect. There should be an assumption of basic competence, and this should be communicated in the demeanor and the words used in a Home Church leaders' meeting. How is respect communicated?
  3. Large Leadership Meetings. It is usually a good idea to have a Home Church leaders' meeting chaired by one of the older leaders. Chairing a meeting does not connote any superiority of position, it is only done for the sake of order and direction in the meeting.
    Focusing the ministry. Unless the leaders are all focusing the majority of their attention and efforts on work that is needed and effective, frustration and negativity will inevitably result. Ascertain whether the bulk of leaders' and workers' time and effort is being used to focus on problems, or on positive, strategically sound ministry. (See Clinton or Lawrence's quadrants)
    Ineffective leaders' meetings tend to focus on Quadrants 1 and 3. Sometimes, we waste time dwelling on Quadrant 4. We should make sure to prioritize Quadrant #2.
    1. Urgent and Important 2. Important but not urgent 
    3. Urgent but not Important  4. Neither urgent nor important 
    Follow the principle of focusing on the responsive field. Within each ministry sphere, identify the most promising and responsive people at this particular time. Avoid the three most common errors in this area:
    1. trying to force feed a believer (or non-Christian) who doesn't want it.
    2. ignoring good growing Christians, because they are doing alright.
    3. greasing the squeaky wheel - expending all of the work of the church (and all of the discussion time in leader's meeting) on people who demand and complain the loudest, without considering others who may demand less, but who are more promising.
  4. Dealing with Negativity. Every leadership team and every leader have to deal with negativity and defeatism from time to time. These attitudes are damaging in the extreme to the morale of the Home Church and the workforce. When dealing with negativity, remember the following.
    1. Distinguish between negativity and realism. The admission of authentic problems is essential before they can be resolved. However, every problem area should be appraised without exaggeration, and the power of God to work through the situation should be expressly admitted. Considering the power of almighty God, if our admitted problems are leaving us depressed and defeated, have we realistically assessed the situation?
    2. Leaders need to remind each other that Christian work, like all war, is full of reversals and unexpected misfortune. Yet there are unexpected victories as well! The setbacks we see today should be seen in the light of the overall history of God's working with the Home Church. It is usually easy to see that there have been periodic reversals, but overall progress.
    3. Negativity regarding other leaders' ministries is particularly suspicious (see VII,A,2 above-- the man on the spot).
    4. We should try to verbally balance negative facts with positive ones in the leader's meeting. It is common to have most of the people in the Home Church earnestly seeking growth, but to focus on the few who are uninterested, or in defeat.
    5. A leader who is projecting negativity and defeatism in the leaders meeting should be reminded to express faith in God.
    6. When real problems arise, are the leaders only bemoaning the situation, or are they also creating steps to correct the situation? If no steps are possible, why spend much time discussing that particular situation? While we may need to morn together at times, we also need to move on to the positive agenda of the church.

When your leadership team is unified and focused on needed ministry, accountable to each other, well-motivated, and trusting God to act, you can expect good things to happen. If any of these things are missing, on the other hand, you need look no further when wondering what's wrong with your home church.