By Bethany Pitman
Editor’s note: Today’s entry is the first of a two-part blog on building relationships in ministry; this one focuses on relationships with your ministry team. Looking for ways to encourage your team and to show your appreciation for them? Check out CTA’s Making a Difference . . . Inspiring Lives Volunteer Journal along with a variety of practical items in two themes: Making a Difference . . . Inspiring Lives and Celebrating Your Faith and Service.
If you serve as part of a ministry team, you know there is no real break. In fact, you are probably already planning your Advent and Christmas programs! Because ministry is nonstop, it can be easy for teams to continue in their same patterns. This year, as fall approaches and summer winds down, take a minute to pause and evaluate the value of relationships within a ministry team.
Think about the person who motivated you the most—the person who inspired you to go above and beyond—the person you never wanted to let down. What did this person do to make you feel valuable? By developing positive relationships within their teams, ministries have a unique opportunity accomplish more and cultivate an affirmed and unified team. In His ministry, Jesus consistently took time to affirm people, and He always met people where they were while challenging them to grow. Building positive relationships requires an investment of time in the beginning, but the payout far outweighs the investment. Below are some easy ways to build positive relationships within your ministry teams:
Building Positive Relationships within a Ministry Team:
- Ask each member of the team how (s)he feels affirmed and respond accordingly.
- Send a positive email to each member of the team, highlighting something specific you appreciate about each of them.
- When there is conflict or something that needs to be addressed, use the sandwich formula—a positive comment about the person, address the concern, and end with another positive comment. (See the template below.)
- Create a list highlighting people’s expertise—not just their job descriptions—things they are known to be good at. This shows that you KNOW your team.
- Ask members to send you prayers requests—and follow up on them.
- Pray together as a team and involve everyone who feels comfortable praying in a group.
- If budget allows, choose a random time throughout the year to put a gift card in someone’s box with a note of appreciation.
- Ask team members to fill out a form with information about their families, birthdays, anniversary, favorite coffee drink, favorite foods, etc. Encourage the group to use these forms to connect with one another.
- Support one another in tangible ways—meals after a birth, death, or illness, attending a funeral, celebrating children’s milestones, etc.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note after someone does an excellent job on a project.
- Have fun together! Ask the team what their idea of fun would be, and find a way to do those things.
- Eat a meal together each week—potlucks allow people to showcase their favorite dishes.
Below is a positive email template if you would like a starting point.
Sandwich Formula Example:
Thank you for the work that you do on our ministry team. You are a valuable member, and we thank God for you!
I’d like to run something by you so I can get your thoughts and we can work together to create an action plan. (Address the conflict or concern).
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and invite you to call or stop by if you want to talk in person. Thank you for the time you spend serving on our team!