by David Roadcup
A good ministry friend of mine calls his paid staff and elder leaders the “team” of the church as an acrostic for Together, Elders And Ministers. These two groups, working together, form one of the most important elements of a healthy and productive church. It’s critical that the staff and elders of every church are committed to one another, work together and build a strong and lasting bond of trust, love and commitment. This allows them to lead their church with a strong sense of unity and purpose.
Recently as I was watching “Animal Planet,” solider ants in Africa were laboring together to dissect and take leaves back to their nest. The industry they were showing was awesome! The ants, working together, were able to de-leaf huge amounts of jungle plant material and store it for food. Their cohesion and unity accomplished the task.
One of the main keys of a good elder-staff team is their ability to work together to intentionally build strong, lasting relationships between themselves. This relationship forms the foundation for their work and service together in the name of Jesus.
There are numerous important elements that go into building such relationships. Today, let’s consider four:
First, pray for each other. Intercessory prayer is taught in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Each day, as the leadership team, we should lift each other up in prayer, asking for God’s blessing and strength for each other. Prayer is one of the main keys to our fellowship and relationship in Jesus.
Second, work toward a shared vision. The Great Commission forms our marching orders. It is our main purpose and focus in understanding God’s heart for our mission. In leading the church, we must keep this divine directive before us at all times. Every paid staff member and every elder should know and be able to state the Vision and Mission Statements of the church. When there is a shared vision that everyone on the TEAM buys into and when we are all moving in the same direction, our vision acts as a unifying force for our work and service. Being on the same page, sharing the same Holy-Spirit-given goal welds us together as we move forward in fruitful ministry.
Third, spend time together. Fifty years of ministry have taught me many things, and this is one lesson: the more time a group spends together, the more they grow together in relationship. Time, whether spent in formal meetings or in informal settings, cements and strengthens our understanding of one another and deepens our love for each other. Our formal staff and elder meetings are important in leading the church. We should also find ways to meet, converse, eat and play together. Formal and informal time together are both critical in relationship building. It was Plato who stated, “You learn more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.”
Fourth, show honor, love and respect for each other. These relational traits are the cornerstones of relationship building and working together. We understand that Jesus commanded that love should be one of our highest values as members of His body. Love leads the way. Love guides our words, thoughts and actions towards one another. On the TEAM, the older members should see the younger as their sons. The younger should see the older as their older brothers and fathers. Our relationships must be built on the foundation of love and care for each other.
On the TEAM also, we make every effort to put others before ourselves. We go into every leadership meeting with a “towel and basin” attitude in our hearts and on our hands.
I have found that if there is one area the evil one will attack, it is the relationships among the leaders of a congregation. So let’s each one, brothers, always be a part of the solution to relationship problems, not their start. Let’s stand back-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder against the attacks brought by Satan. Through our unity, love and mutual support, we will build a strong and effective TEAM as we bring glory to Christ our Lord.