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Faith Sharing

Staff and Volunteer Team Building

CTA - Christ to All /Mar. 08, 2022
Staff and Volunteer Team Building

By Kristin Schultz 

Ministry is a team effort. The body of Christ is composed of many members, each having unique abilities. These individuals are hired or volunteer to be a part of teams that share the Gospel and serve the church. But teams don’t magically form or function by themselves. Staff or volunteer team building takes intentional and sustained effort. 

What Is Team Building? 

Team building is a process that strengthens the bonds of the individuals in a group. In order for a team (paid or volunteer) to be effective, it needs to function as one entity.  

Think of a sports team—if the players acted as individuals, doing what each thought was best, the team would be doomed to failure. Successful sports teams identify each player’s strengths and form a strategy based upon their collaboration. 

Each team member has to trust the others. The player throwing the ball needs to trust that a teammate will catch the ball and score. When the bonds between players are strong, the team is more likely to succeed. But building bonds and trust isn’t automatic; it’s a process. 

It’s the same with your ministry teams. In order for your music team or children’s ministry team to be effective, each member must trust his or her fellow teammates. This happens through intentional, consistent staff or volunteer team building. 

Why Is Team Building Important? 

When a team is strong, it is more effective. A united team has a single focus. A team that trusts its members channels its energy into the mission.  

In a weak team, teammates are looking around instead of looking forward. They look around to see if other members will follow through, to slander other’s efforts, and to ensure everyone is watching them.  

Staff or volunteer team building is key to a successful ministry. People join a team to answer the Lord’s call to serve. They stay on a team because they feel valued and effective. 

Adding Team Building to Your Ministry 

Strengthening the bonds between people is an ongoing process of consistent interactions punctuated with larger events. As you work to build your teams, don’t forget to empower ministry leaders to strengthen their own teams as well. 

Short-Term Team Building 

Trust begins with communication. Honest communication encourages staff or volunteers to open up with one another about the joys and challenges they face. If team members know they can share smaller struggles (“I locked my keys in my car and had to wait four hours for the locksmith”) with their team, it will be easier to share weightier concerns or vulnerabilities (“I am really struggling with this task and need help”). 

As team members share with each other, it’s important that leaders also communicate with transparency. Publicize the ministry’s mission and vision. Reiterate the mission often. Clearly communicate your goals for the month, quarter, and year so that everyone involved knows where the leadership team is heading.  

Communicate statistics and status updates with your team. If you are tracking your church’s finances or attendance, bring in your leadership team on that information. Giving your leadership team a 360° view of the ministry as you see it gives your team the opportunity to support you. Transparency builds trust. 

In addition to regular and honest communication, staff or volunteer team building needs to include some fun. Providing space for team members to take a break and enjoy a lunch or a coffee and socialize informally further strengthens bonds. 

Long-Term Team Building 

Integrating focused events into your team-building plan is another way to build trust. Planned events give teams something to look forward to and let members participate in meaningful ways. 

Announce these events well in advance. Include fun, active elements and time for fellowship. While short-term team building lasts only a few minutes, long-term team building can last hours or days.  

These events can take place on- or off-site and range between fun and professional development, to a staff retreat in between. The key to long-term team building is to make the events accessible and appropriate to your teams’ interests and abilities. Check out CTA’s free resources to help you uplift your volunteer and staff teams. 

Sticking Together 

God has given staff and volunteers the hearts and abilities to serve him and the community. Building strong teams builds strong ministries that joyfully share the Gospel.  

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Tips and Trends 

Staff or volunteer team building is more than throwing a pizza party. Team building is meant to strengthen bonds, making a team more effective. You can build teams by incorporating short-term strategies into your daily interactions. You can also plan longer-term team building strategies that enhance relationships and trust. 

Short-Term Team Building 

Staff Meeting Prayer Requests 

If you don’t already, spend time in your staff meetings to take prayer requests. It’s important for your team to know that they are first and foremost God’s children, not employees. We are blessed to work with fellow believers, and we should feel confident carrying each other’s burdens and lifting them up to the Lord. 

Mission and Vision Sharing 

Team members often find that they spend most of their time dealing with details or putting out fires. When they are “in the weeds,” they can become discouraged and not remember the larger mission. Reiterate your church’s mission and vision regularly. Make sure all the smaller teams know they are part of a larger team. 

Transparent Communication 

Sharing news with your staff and volunteers is vital for building trust. Sharing bad news is never fun, but people appreciate transparency and vulnerability. Being open about your church’s finances, attendance, and other statistics gives your team the opportunity to support you in ways you may not realize.  

Long-Term Team Building 

Pure Fun 

Sometimes we just need to have some fun. Also, it happens to be a great team-building exercise. Consider hosting a decorating contest at Christmas. Staff can decorate their office doors in the spirit of the season and then vote on the door they like best.  

Another option is to reserve a large table or private room at a restaurant and enjoy a long lunch together. Work topics will naturally come up but getting out of the office gives your team the chance to get to know each other better and the freedom to talk about nonwork-related topics if they so choose. 

Staff Retreat 

Staff retreats take on many forms and can be held anywhere. You could spend a few hours encouraging one another through devotion and discussion. You could also take time off-site to plan the upcoming calendar. The balance of productivity and socialization is invaluable, and the dedicated time lets team members collaborate and cooperate. CTA offers many free guides and resources for volunteer and staff retreats.  

Professional Development 

Consider attending a professional conference as a team. Similar to a retreat, conferences allow time for learning and fellowship. If a conference is financially or logistically out of reach, consider bringing in a speaker to spend an afternoon encouraging the staff.  

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2022 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.