Whether you are a senior pastor, youth pastor, or ministry leader it is essential for you to connect with those who serve with you. At Rock Family Church we are intentional about building and developing quality relationships on our leadership teams. I have found the closer knit we are as a staff the more productive we are. Acts 2:42 gives us some practical insight. It says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Here are four simple principles to engage with your staff and leadership team.
First, we must be teaching and coaching our staff for success. The key in this area is finding the healthy balance. Some leaders end up micromanaging their staff and they must approve every decision in every area. Some go to the other extreme and hardly ever communicate with their staff. My staff hears me teach the Word of God every weekend. My goal every Tuesday is to teach them a leadership or ministry principle. This may vary from reviewing our premarital counseling guidelines, attitudes of leadership, or developing a daily prioritized task list. This is going to be nuts and bolts, practical information to grow them as a minister and leader. It is crucial that you are meeting with your staff and communicating on a weekly basis. One of the greatest frustrations I have heard from staff members across the nation is, “I never have a chance to talk or communicate with my pastor.” One youth pastor only met with his pastor about 2-3 times a year. WOW! How can we have unity and continuity in vision and purpose if we never communicate? Philippians 2:2 says, “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” The only way that can happen is if you are leading, coaching, connecting and teaching your staff.
The second example we see from the Book of Acts is fellowship. Where did the myth begin that if a pastor or leader spent too much time with his staff they would lose respect for him? Fellowship is such an important key in becoming like minded and being one in spirit and purpose. I have found the more time we spend together, the more unity becomes a reality. Every Tuesday when our pastoral staff goes out to lunch our goal is NOT to talk church business. We talk about sports, family, and politics. We share what the Holy Spirit has been challenging us in our personal devotional time or what scripture has really been speaking to us. Our goal is to share life experiences and connect as individuals. One of my favorites is our annual staff retreat where we combine all four of these elements I’m discussing in this article. A big part of our retreat is simply for fellowship. To hang out as friends, play table games, or go shopping. On other occasions we have gone to movies together, enjoyed an evening at a clean comedy club, or went to a professional sporting event. Two years ago we all went on vacation together for five days. It is amazing how God can blend your hearts and lies of division are defeated when you simply spend time with each other.
Third, we are challenged to break bread together. Show me a family that eats an evening meal together 5-6 nights a week and I will show you a healthy, connected family. Once again, the emphasis is spending time together and sharing a common experience of eating a meal together. If you want to discover the heart and true nature of someone . . . fill them up with their favorite food, let them get relaxed, and you will find out all kinds of amazing stories and insights about them. Our goal at Rock is to get the staff together every 4-6 weeks for a family barbeque, or a couple’s night out. It is in these times of connectivity that God super glues our hearts together. Vision is cast, wounds are brought to the surface, and friendships are developed.
Last, it is important to pray together. There is nothing more powerful or unifying than to go to the throne of God together. Every Tuesday afternoon we pray and worship together as a staff. We unite in faith for people to be born again, healed, and their lives to be transformed. We pray for our city, our members, and the finances to fulfill the vision. Once a month the pastors and their spouses gather to pray and connect with each other and our elder leadership team. When you can openly pray in front of each other and you can be transparent with your emotions, there is a heart connection that takes place. After we have finished praying I will ask, “What are you seeing? Did the Holy Spirit show or tell you anything as we prayed.” Many times in that moment I have begun to share what was in my heart and where I saw the Lord leading us as a church. My staff members were the first ones to hear it. As we are able to share the secret things of our heart it bonds and knits our hearts together.
After the Vietnam War the army changed the way soldiers were sent into battle. No longer was a man dropped into a platoon or unit and sent into battle. The army shifted and as they do today, they sent entire battalions who had trained together, lived together, and worked together for the past 12-18 months. The death toll and casualty rate was greatly reduced! Why? Because now the five guys who are under fire in a foxhole aren’t strangers, they are friends. Their kids play together. Their spouses are friends. They not only want to get out of this alive, but they want you to make it as well. In Vietnam it was the opposite. “I don’t know you or anything about you, so if only one of us is going to make it out, I prefer ME over YOU.” You know as well as I do that when we serve in the ministry it doesn’t take much for the “bombs and hand grenades of life” to go off. If you have connected with your staff, they’ll defend you and cover your back. If you have failed to build trust, unity, and loyalty, your staff will duck and run to save their skin first.
Jesus is my ultimate leadership example. Someone forgot to tell him he was not supposed to be friends with his staff. In John 15 he said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Make it your goal for 2010 to coach, train, fellowship, eat, and pray with your staff! One year from now you will be amazed at how much your team will have developed and grown stronger.
Question: What do you see as your primary responsibility to your staff as a senior pastor?
Below you will find my commitment to my staff. I could write a paragraph on each one but I will spare you the time and let each one speak for itself.
My Commitment to My Staff
- To support you with vision, love, coaching, finances, resources, equipment, and encouragement.
- To help you be successful and achieve your ministry goals and vision.
- To value you with affirmation of words, blessings, and finances.
- To honor and respect you, your gift, and your calling.
- To hold you accountable to your vision, commitments, and strategies.
- To grow and develop you to reach full potential.
- To be your pastor, boss, and friend.
- You are my inner circle of trusted partners in ministry.
- I highly value our relationship.
- If I ever esteem our friendship above my leadership then I won’t say what needs to be said and we limit our progress as a team.
- To always be truthful and transparent with you.
- To think the best, believe the best, and speak the best about you.
- I will publicly defend and support you regardless of any disagreements we have in private.
- To release you in love and favor if God ever leads you from this church.