A few weeks ago, I was at a high school soccer game and watched the team I was cheering for get beaten. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the talent; they definitely had the skills and the know-how to put up a win. The coach was calling good plays and even the referees were making fair calls. But it’s tough to win when not everyone is on the same page—and that was an obvious problem that I could see midway through the game. The team had a forward who wouldn’t pass the ball; he hot-dogged down the field even when the coach was screaming for him to pass. He had a lot of talent, but he was more interested in his own agenda for winning than the team’s plan. And that attitude rarely results in a win for a team.
In Part Two of Larry Osborne’s book, Sticky Teams, we’ll take a look at the importance of getting everyone on the same page. While every church culture is unique and each staff is made up of unique (and often “strong!”) personalities, it is vital that the healthy church has teams and staff that are aligned and working toward the same goals. Here are some key takeaways from this section of the book:
Don’t Lobby, Train: Sometimes leaders think training entails giving a pitch over and over again to win the hearts of the listeners. Make sure that you’re actually training your team—teaching them what you want them to know and learn and sharing your heart. Equip your team for success and invest in them with the tools and training they’ll need for success. And don’t forget repetition—don’t just say it once and expect your team to remember it and apply it—you need to repeat, repeat, repeat!
Board Alignment: It’s important to train your board as well, so consider having a meeting that concentrates solely on training and relationship building. The more you educate your board, the easier it will be to work through business and get things done at your regularly scheduled meetings. Osborne suggests concentrating on these three things at your extra “shepherding” meeting: team building, training and prayer.
Staff Alignment: Osborne recommends using ministry “plumb lines,” a way to make sure that your programs, ministries, and decisions line up with your church’s core values and priorities. Plumb lines don’t mean that there’s only one way to do ministry, but they do assure that the creativity your staff brings to programming and ministries all align with what’s most important in your church by providing a guideline for when things start to steer off course.
Congregational Alignment: Your church members need to hear your values and priorities over and over as well. Osborne gives five tools for congregational alignment: 1) a clear and simple mission statement, 2) a front-loaded pastor’s class, 3) the drip method of preaching, 4) sermon-based small groups, and 5) short and sweet congregational meetings. Our church grew by leaps and bounds one year when our church started providing materials for our small groups that were based on the sermons. It provided repetition and time for people to debrief from the weekend. And Osborne’s suggestion of having mini informational meetings for your congregation before your annual meeting is brilliant—another tip that I’ve seen in action at our church. This process makes the long, drawn-out, argumentative, stress-filled congregational meetings a thing of the past because everyone is aligned with what you’re voting on before the meeting even occurs.
Think On This
Why does lobbying by church leaders tend to backfire? What plan can you put in place so people hear your values and priorities over and over again? What are the plumb lines in your church? How are you implementing the five tools for congregational alignment? What do you need to change or add so that your congregation feels part of your team?