Us Versus Me

There's a lot of abstract talk about the importance of teams, but when the rubber meets the road, we often work in isolation.

Some leaders don't trust others to help them. You know, the person who doesn't believe that anyone can/will do it as well as he or she will.

Others don't have the requisite skills to rally people to work with them.

But then there is the history of an organization that keeps change from taking place even though, intellectually, its leadership knows that the organization needs to go in another direction.

For years we have been hearing, "Teamwork makes the dream work." Yet the overwhelming majority of the churches in my denomination are staffed by one person. (Truth be told, many have less than one staff person because many pastors look after more than one church.)

When our denomination was founded in the 19th century, physicians were still making house calls and working with not much more than a stethoscope and a doctor's bag. In other words, they were generalists.

Just the other day I was speaking with a PA who works in cardiology. He told me that at Cooper Hospital, there are specialists within cardiology that only address one part of that process. (This is not obstetrics, this is not podiatry, opthamology, urology, pediatrics. There is specialty within specialties today.) We have come a long way from the doctor knocking on your front door with all the medicine you'll need already in his bag to teaching hospitals with anesthesiologists, Xray techs, nurses and more.

But the denomination still clings to the pastor as generalist despite intellectually accepting that teams of individuals specially gifted by the Holy Spirit are essential to church growth.

We put a pastor with a certain gift mix in a major metropolitan area and when the church plateaus, we replace her with another pastor with a different gift mix. Is that the answer? I would think a better approach would be to create a leadership team around her that offsets her weaknesses and takes advantage of her strengths.

The hesitation is always about money for salaries. If we could change our perspective we could see that churches could grow exponentially if they had the local spiritual leadership and structure to woo and nurture new members. (Members have tithes. Tithes provide ministerial salaries. More members bring more tithes.) Ralph Douglas West says, "There is no sinner shortage!"

The pie could grow justifying the staff salaries and allowing these churches to provide capital for new teams of ministers to plant churches in areas largely unreached by the message.

This is not an untested theory. It works. Drive across America and one will see churches who believed in the importance of strong ministerial teams and invested in expanding staff to accommodate the specialized needs of the growing congregation. Contrary to the myth among many in my denomination, it didn't make the people lazy. Those staff members were able to better engage and involve members in meaningful ministry opportunities.


Nice essay. Jack of all trades a master of none i.e. generalists
Nice essay. Jack of all trades a master of none i.e. generalists

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