Guest Blog: Steve Shackett

I love sports, all sports but especially baseball. There are so many nuances and variations to the game that you can certainly lose yourself in its complexities. Yet for all intents and purposes, it’s a very simple game. I also played on and managed a slow-pitch team for nearly 30 years and enjoyed every moment. No, this was not your average softball team playing local recreational ball down at the neighborhood field, but a team that traveled extensively around the nation and won three world titles along the way. This was a team with a national sponsor and one that had a six figure budget to accomplish all of its travel and competitive desires. One thing that I did learn however, is that there are many similarities between managing a ball club and managing a business or even a church staff.

First, there is an overall goal: to WIN the game! Certainly winning can be described in a variety of fashions, but suffice it to say that for the church, it’s reaching the lost and seeing many come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are many aspects that go into accomplishing this and the most important is that our staff functions together as a TEAM. As in baseball, there are many individuals playing different positions, but when everyone performs together as a team and does their job, winning becomes the end product. We love to “hit it out of the park” every week with staff and volunteers coming together in a cohesive way to have another winning weekend, which ultimately means 30-40 new believers coming into the Kingdom of God.

I also love the SACRIFICE play in baseball. This occurs when a batter sacrifices his “at bat” to move the runner into scoring position. This also takes place in the church when a staff member understands that he doesn’t need or require accolades, to be “up front,” or even to get credit, but is concerned more with putting others into a position to SCORE. Ball players can get hot, sweaty, tired, have sore muscles and get worn out playing late into the night. That sounds a lot like our church staff following a big event or annual conference like Team Church Conference. (By the way, if you haven’t been to Team Church before, don’t miss this year’s –it can be a life changing experience). The “whatever it takes” attitude to win is a must for anyone committed to ministry. Late nights, fatigue and even sore muscles can be indicative of a long weekend at church doing whatever is required to have outstanding services. This attitude of sacrifice is a must if you are to be part of a winning team.

Finally, creating a winning team means putting your individual personal issues on hold and recognizing that for “the good of the team” my problems are not paramount. The Prima Donna does not do well on a baseball team and certainly not on a church team. Navigating through individual personal issues to push through, mature and grow as a team is vital to winning. In my day, when a pitcher got into trouble in a game, instead of taking him out, I would leave him in and tell him to pitch his way out of trouble. I think sometimes we too quickly relieve individuals and allow others to mop up. This doesn’t help the team and certainly doesn’t allow the individual to grow through these challenges. I love baseball and I love the church --- it’s interesting to see how many principles can be applied to both!

Guest Post: Sue Kahawaii

Building Teams That Build The Church

Leadership thought: The size of your dream should determine the size of your team.

If you are dreaming of big things for the church, then you should also be doing things that increase the size and number of people involved on the team. We cannot achieve the dream without the team.

There are some basic principles that have to do with building teams within the church. Church is a unique organization in that our mission is to take as many people possible with us on the journey called the Christian walk of faith. So why is it that we seem to have trouble understanding that just as it is our responsibility to win people to the Lord, it is also our responsibility to recruit people to be on our teams?

Everyone belongs on a team. But not every team is for everyone.

You cannot fire volunteers. If a volunteer fails to stick, more often than not, it is our fault and not theirs. When volunteers don’t fit it is usually because they have been positioned in a wrong role, or it is a personality mismatch between team members. In almost every circumstance, the leader should see this in advance. Repositioning the volunteer to a different team, a different role, or a different place usually works. The best way to avoid misfits is to prevent them. But remember this: a volunteer should never be “fired.” Firing a volunteer is devastating to the volunteer and can result in their leaving the church or leaving their faith altogether. Find a win/win scenario if you need to reposition someone.

Not all positions on a team are equal, but all people are equal. The person doing the smallest task is just as important as the person doing the biggest task. The tasks may be more or less important, but the people are equal in value. If you operate out of this thought, you won’t have people on the team acting like they are more important, striving for titles, and acting self-important. The leader of the team or department needs to be very clear on this – all people are equal on the team, but their roles may be different.

It is better to have many people doing small things on a team, than it is to have a few people doing many things. When you have just a few people doing the work, you close the doors of opportunity to many other people who would and could enjoy the benefits of being on the team. People who say that they only want a select few on their teams are usually just making excuses for their lack of ability to recruit, train and keep people. It’s selfish. The benefits of being on a team are so huge that they cannot be ignored.
- People receive a blessing when they do the work of the Lord.
- Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. The team opportunity gives people a chance to be part of growing a church.
- In a big church, the best way for people to make new friends is for them to be on a team.
- People can learn skills, try things they have never done before, and expand the interests in their lives through involvement in the church.
- People who are happy on a team will overlook minor and petty things that happen at church.
- People who are on a team are much more likely to financially support the church in tithes and offerings.
- People who are on a team will speak positively about the church to others.

The person who has the most influence –either positive or negative –is the team leader. The team leader can make or break the team.
- fun v. not fun
- organized v. disorganized
- growing v. shrinking
- successful v. unsuccessful in the duties of the team
- positive v. negative experience
- atmosphere that promotes friendships and relationships v. an atmosphere that is all about work and the job at hand

The growth of the church is totally dependant upon our ability to grow our existing teams. We can only reach people if we are able to care for them when they come. It does us no good to pack the place out week after week if we are not taking people beyond that first visit. Our ability to grow the size and number of teams we have is the essential key that will make or break our future. The way that we have done things in the past is not sufficient to carry us through today, and certainly not into tomorrow. Connecting people is the number one priority we should all have.
- The strength of our church is impacted by our weakest link. Are you the weak link?
- Do you have trouble keeping up with everyone else?
- Are you growing in your area of responsibility?
- Do you see the big picture?
- Do you recognize and are you working on your personal weakness?
- Are you working by yourself or are you working with the rest of the team(s)?
- Are you consistently fulfilling and meeting the expectations of your team and/or pastor?

We are not called to be like eagles, that fly alone and live a solitary existence. We are called to be more like Canadian geese.
- They fly together in tight formation with a leader up front. No one flies outside the formation doing their own thing.
- The geese follow their leader.
- If the leader tires, another moves quickly into place without the team every missing pace.
- If a goose falls ill or is injured, two healthy geese will stay back and accompany the injured goose to the ground remaining there until the goose is able to fly again, or until it dies. They will not leave it to die alone. Afterwards, the two geese will return to the flock as quickly as possible. The flock does not miss pace or is not held back, but there is a compassionate attendance made to the sick or injured goose.
- The geese at the back of the flock are very noisy as they cheer those on in front of them.
- Alone, the single goose’s flapping of wings propels at a slower pace per hour than that of the group flying. The wind draft created by a multitude of wings actually increases speed of the flock together. The synergy of the team is greater together than the single strongest bird could ever create on their own.

Always make new mistakes (reads the magnet that is on a board at my desk).

Becoming a great leader includes making mistakes.

As a young leader, I feel as though I live in a dichotomy of observing what it takes to be a genuine and successful leader while constantly being observed to see if I have what it takes to be one. I am in positions of watching decisions being made and decision making; learning and teaching; listening and speaking; witnessing mistakes and making mistakes myself.

Having the courage to stay in the game despite mistakes that are made by people around me or mistakes that I make is a huge lesson that I have learned in leadership. I am convinced that as long as a potential leader is afraid to fail, they will indeed fail every time. I am convinced that unless I approach leadership with a “whatever it takes” attitude (even if that includes miscalculations and misunderstandings from time to time) I will never become the leader that God is calling me to become.

This is a journey that we are on as leaders – from start to finish we must never stop growing and expanding. Successful leadership comes when we take the time to hear from others, learn from their mistakes and each of us as individuals give something back. 1 Peter 3 (MSG) says, “Bless -that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.”

Since I was a kid, I have been attending camps and conferences, learning what it takes to walk in relationship with God. Now, as a leader, those years mean even more because the things I do in my life –the way I live my life –is more than just about me. It is about God’s larger plan. That is why I love this time of year so much in the life of our church. Our annual Team Church Conference is right around the corner, and I am expecting to not only be refreshed and inspired myself, but also to fuel the cause of the local church into business leaders, church members, and church leaders who attend in a couple weeks.

I’m excited to be a part of hosting TC’08 because I am anticipating that this conference is going to reignite pastors and church members to build that which God loves so much – the local church. Even though the local church has never been perfect, I believe God is calling us to step up and take the challenge to advance the Kingdom of God on the planet today –even if it means making a few new mistakes along the way.

Guest Blog: Brandon Stewart

One of my greatest passions is the local Church. Ephesians 5:25 shows us that “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” I believe that the Church represents the plan of God for our lives, our communities, and the globe. Within the power and strength of the Church lies hope and answers for a world that desperately needs to know their creator.

I often think about it like this… If all it took to build a great church was beautiful buildings, great music and the right programming…then the Church would be booming! We’d have everything we need, and the House would be full every week. However, I believe it takes something more than all of this to make the Church great (and don’t get me wrong…all of these things are important!).

The truth is that it takes a team of people who are committed heart and soul to the cause of Christ, prepared to rise up in the Luke 2:52 principles of “wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with men.” In other words, it takes great leadership. It takes commitment & loyalty. It takes Team Church. I’m so excited about our upcoming conference – Team Church Conference. It’s a chance that our team has every year to host people from around the country and the world to come together around one cause – Christ’s Church. We come to build relationships, receive from some of the finest teachers in the world, and sharpen ourselves as leaders.

I encourage you to not miss the opportunity that this conference presents…come be part of all that God is going to do in us individually and corporately during these few days! And come to sharpen yourself as a leader. There is something significant found in being together for a few consecutive days that has an impact on your life. TC08 promises to be an event not to miss!

Above all – let’s never grow weary in this incredible mandate we have to build the Kingdom of God here on earth, and specifically in the Northwest. It is my honor and privilege to serve on the awesome team at Champions Centre…the great men, women and young people who give selflessly of their time and talent every weekend to see people reached with truth and salvation. If you’ve ever wondered if your life would serve a significant purpose…look no further than what you are doing at Church. Your labor is not in vain.

I’m looking forward to a great conference in just a few weeks.