Building a Team For Momentum

I have been spending the last several days thinking through the way we evaluate the team we are assembling as a church for leadership and carrying out a vision for multiplication into the future. It is stirred by prayerfully evaluating an elder candidate and desiring to create a system to prepare men and women for leadership at Reservoir.

I have as of late talked a bunch about laying foundation stones in the church for future health and just like some of the other blocks we build up, the team responsible for leading the church is a vital stone that must be nurtured and shaped along the way so as to prevent unnecessary roadblocks or division down the road.

Of course we have biblical guides for elders and deacons in the church but I want a list of keys to give us concrete metrics in reviewing the team. In this nurture and shaping then I have leaned on some others’ expertise for categories to use in evaluation of health of a team and have come up with 6 C’s (which is silly because everyone has C words as their list). And of all places, I found a Rotary article helpful toward this end.

Here then is my list, character, competency, chemistry, capacity, courage, and calling.

Character – This is our biblically outlined set of attributes of being above reproach respectable, hospitable, uncontentious, not greedy, just, and clinging to what is good (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9).

Are the members of the team people of character? Are they trustworthy and reliable? Have they endeavored to make the priorities of the team their own and are they willing to pursue what is right over self? These are important questions and while character can seem surface level you actually get a better sense of it over time. Things of character are revealed as difficulties arise and decisions are carried out. This is why Paul in his elder qualifications has the man’s reputation in mind. What do those that know him best say of his character?

Hopefully by the time the person joins our team their character has been proven but like anything, we can slip or let sin linger and go off the rails. We must remain watchful over not only doctrine but our lives as well.

Competency – We can never assume that because someone has character they also have the competency to actually lead. Do they have the life refine experience and gifting as well as Spirit-infused ability to accomplish the tasks required? And more than just the ability to do it, does the candidate possess the will to do it. Are they willing to lend their expertise for the greater good and glory of Christ rather than their own name?

This can be taught with training and apprenticeship but we have to be careful where this lacks because it will be a definite drag on momentum of the team and church they are leading.

Chemistry – Often neglected in the church because we are all suppose to get along, chemistry is vital for healthy teams to move forward. This is not about forming a team of lemmings but people that trust each other and have the best interests of the team and church in mind and heart. This is a single-mindedness that defines a group that can be noticed in personalities, process, and productivity.

If we have to keep coming back to the table to discern why things unfold so poorly it might be a chemistry issue. This one requires gracious care because it might be an indicator that the person should not be on the team. just as Paul and Barnabas separated, some times the Lord changes the mix of personalities for healthy chemistry in leadership teams.

Capacity – While this key is related to whether the person is competent it has to do with the availability to serve and the margin to go beyond mere competency in leading with the team. Does this person have the time necessary to lead and do they have the capacity to grow as a leader?

The person that never grows or never seeks opportunities to develop as a leader is indicating they may not have the capacity for it. Without it only stagnation happens and momentum is stifled if not killed.

Courage – This key might also be called creativity in that not only should the leader be courageous enough to tackle difficulty and hardships, they also need to creatively face opportunities to make a difference.

Especially as elders, these are the leaders responsible for protecting the flock against false teaching or harm and if the individual doesn’t have the backbone (confidence in humble reliance on Christ) to stand for truth they don’t have what it takes to lead. For the health of a team this courage has to be spread around and while the vocational leader, or paid pastor, does have an obligation to take the bulk of hard situations, he can’t be left alone in it. All members of the team need the courage to work with each other and those they lead, even when things get hard.

Calling – The last key for me is probably the most important. Is the person, man in the case of elders, called to be in the office or role they are pursuing? Forming a team of leaders just because they have the resumes for leadership will get the church nowhere. They must be called by God for the time and purpose of leading.

More so than an individual call they should be able to recognize and submit to the Lord’s calling for direction of the church, the vision he has place on their hearts.


These are six keys that we can use to evaluate the health of a team or the addition to a team. By reviewing these aspects of life and leadership a team should be more equipped for moving in the direction the Lord determines for the church.

Of course all of this, in the church context, must be thouroughly bathed in prayed as the team trusts the Spirit to empower and lead them.

So what do you think? What are missing elements of healthy teams or leaders and how do we go about evaluating them?

Holy Fear and Revival

We have been talking about the elements of renewal or revival in some corners of the church and one dear saint sensed a calling to pray for a holy fear of God to permeate the church. While our modern first response might be hesitancy (who wants to endorse fear), when we have a biblical context for what it means to have an abiding reverence for God, then the environment shifts and the soil is prepared for revival.

To this end, this Saint shared her thinking on what the fear of the Lord looks like in a climate of revival.

“A Climate for Revival

“Holy Fear Outside the Church:
Understanding one’s position ->Holy Fear (horror, anguish, woe) coupled w/
hope->Redemption and Salvation

“Holy Fear Inside the Church:
Understanding One’s position->Holy Fear
(humility, awe, wonder) coupled with hope->Revival and Further Sanctification”

May we inside the church understand our position, made righteous by Christ, and live in humility, wonder, and awe with a defining hope for more.

Tools To Help Think It Through

It is no secret depression, anxiety, and fear are rampant in our culture and those in the church are just as likely to deal with these same things. There are three categories of tools to work through these issues, spiritual, practical, and clinical.

We encourage those in tough places to doctors and therapists for the clinical relief that may be need. We preach the condemnation-free grace of Jesus and empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the spiritual. And we seek healthy patterns of life when it comes to the practical.

So we find strategies to process our feelings and emotions, the thoughts we find consuming us.

To that end I just finished “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. It is a stirring reflection on the current state of our culture full of anecdotal and statistical data.

Presented in the book as one practical (and clinical) approach to healthier thinking is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is what they say: “Cognitive behavioral therapists treat trauma patients by exposing them to the things they find upsetting (at first in small ways, such as imagining them or looking at pictures), activating their fear, and helping them habituate (grow accustomed) to the stimuli. In fact, the reactivation of anxiety is so important to recovery that some therapists advise their patients to avoid using antianxiety medication while undertaking exposure therapy.”

In the appendix of the book they give some steps to CBT that I thought were worth sharing.

“1. When you are feeling anxious, depressed, or otherwise distressed, take a moment to write down what you are feeling.

2. Write down your level of distress. (For example, you could score it on a scale of 1 to 100.)

3. Write down what happened and what your automatic thoughts were when you felt the pang of anxiety or despair. (For example, “Someone I was interested in canceled our date. I said to myself, ‘This always happens. No one will ever want to go out with me. I’m a total loser.’”)

4. Look at the categories of distorted automatic thoughts below, and ask yourself: Is this thought a cognitive distortion? Write down the cognitive distortions you notice. (For example, looking at the automatic thoughts in number 3 above, you might write, “personalizing, overgeneralizing, labeling, and catastrophizing.”)

5. Look at the evidence for and against your thought.

6. Ask yourself what someone might say who disagreed with you. Is there any merit in that opinion?

7. Consider again what happened, and reevaluate the situation without the cognitive distortions.

8. Write down your new thoughts and feelings. (For example, “I am sad and disappointed that a date I was excited about got canceled.”)

9. Write down again, using the same scale as before, how anxious, depressed, or otherwise distressed you feel.”

Chances are once we do this the scale will be lower and we will be finding relief.

The key is to keep pressing on. Find the places you need someone to stand with you, where you need help, and keep going.

Contending Over Commenting

I have been reading the latest book from Mark Sayers on renewal in the church through a remnant of discontents seeking Jesus. Reappearing Church: The Hope of Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Age. It is stirring some good thoughts and hopefully refining me as I attempt to lead such a ragtag remnant.

This weekend though one line really put a pin in something I have experienced in leadership. In a chapter calling the church to move away from consumerism Sayers says this: “Consumer Christianity is a form of cultural Christianity that compromises the cross with self rather than flag, mixing the worship of God with the worship of options, personal autonomy, low commitment, and opinion over responsibility.

First, we have to recognize our penchant to be consumers. Even those of us in the Christian subculture that prefer hymns over fog machines, we are likely to pursue church, and dare I say, community as a consumer. I do it, you do it, we all do. From that point we recognize a major problem.

We prefer to maintain our own kingdom rather than surrender to Christ’s in a community of believers (meaning my time, my hobbies, my Netflix binges that interfere with mission and the life of the church.) And we prefer to add comments rather than sweat or contend for mission and discipleship in the church.

Too many wanna-be leaders are well equipped to opine on the health of a church or lack of forward motion while neglecting to take any action themselves. Maybe we think the people paid to do ministry should handle everything or maybe we are just stuck in our consumer mindsets. We convince ourselves that our schedules are too full or life is too busy to take up the work. So we keep our options open, commit just a little more than the next guy so we can feel like we are the most righteous, and then miss out on mission because we refused to contend for the church.

We refuse to contend for renewal in Christ.

There is hope. Repentance and realigning our priorities and lives around the mission Jesus has given us, move us beyond consuming. Giving our lives away for the glory of Christ breaks the hold of autonomy of self.

Will you pray with me toward this end? That the Lord would refine us, renew us as we contend together? There is a place for you to contend. Step up and pursue Jesus with abandon and find a family of believers to do it with.