In Good to Great, Jim Collins explains how you need to make sure that not only the right people are on the bus but that they are seated in the right seats. This is a matter of ministry placement and is crucial to building a team that is effective, efficient and loves doing what they do. Jethro clearly told Moses in Exodus 18 that he was incapable of doing it alone and it would wear him out. Jethro then told him in verse 21 (HCSB), “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people.” In other words, make sure you get the right people on the bus.
Jethro continued to explain, “…and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, of tens.” Once you get them on the bus, place them in the right seats on the bus. God has a perfect design for every individual and how they best fit on a team because a team, in Jethro’s words, will make it easier for everyone, will bear the weight and responsibility together, will enable you to endure and will help everyone to “go to their place in peace.” Maybe the most important part of the interaction between Jethro and Moses is that Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he said.
Pastor, you oversee many responsibilities where any one of them could be full-time — sermon preparation, pastoral care, counseling, administrating, directing staff and ministries, plus a plethora of others. Everyone has a maximum capacity except superman, and you are not him. The wise leader understands the importance of a team while focusing on getting the right people on the team, then placing them in the right positions that enable them to flourish and the church to be blessed by their presence. The happiest people are people who are serving in the roles they are passionate about — their sweet spots.
Strategic planning and thinking requires developing a ministry placement system where “people grow, and the church grows the most quickly by inviting the right people into the right ministries at the right time for the right reasons” (New Church Dynamics DCPI). Hal Seed defines a ministry placement system this way: “A ministry placement system is both a culture of understanding and valuing the spiritual gifts and contributions of each attender; and it includes processes that foster healthy ministry teams through inviting and equipping team members and raising up team leaders.” It is helping people to discover their place on the team.
Hal continues, “The goal of your Ministry Placement System is to get the right people into the right places of service, for the right reasons. Once they are there, your ongoing goal is to keep them cared for and well-fed. At New Song, we say, ‘We want to put more back into our volunteers than we take out of them.’ The backbone of healthy churches is healthy, gifted, growing volunteers.” Your greatest asset at your church is your people who love the Lord, love His church and love serving one another (I Peter 4:10-11; Rom. 12:4-8). Pastor, you are most effective working on a team where you are the visionary leader.
Here are some things to consider when building a team:
• You should first ask yourself what they need from you and how you can best equip them. Some tools to consider in team building are personality profiles to help them understand how they are hard-wired, a core values audit to make sure their values and the churches values add up, a spiritual gifts test, a spiritual growth evaluation, instruction on how to have a godly impact and a clear job description. There will also be a time for a ministry interview, but that will probably be more effective after equipping them first and answering as many of their questions as possible.
• Develop a system to enlist volunteers by listing ministry needs and sharing them with your church. Consider how you can best cast the vision for serving opportunities and how you can have the entire church discover their spiritual gifts and unique God-given design. You might also consider preaching a series of messages about ministry needs and the teams you have to carry out those responsibilities. Teach and empower your current team members to recruit new team members. They are your best advocates and people prefer being asked directly over signing up on a bulletin board or clipboard somewhere.
• As always, begin in prayer as instructed in Matt. 9:38. Your first prayer should be, “Lord, who should I invite to serve in this particular area?” Before you approach someone about serving, ask God to prepare their heart and purify your motives. Your invitation should be based on a desire to see people find a fulfilling role in your church. You are inviting them to fulfill God’s agenda and purpose in their lives. It is better to want something you do not have than to have something you do not want. Prayerfully approach a plan to place the “right” people, in the “right” seats, for the “right” reasons.
• Identify a need, then pray. Ask God to lead you to the right person to invite them to help meet that need — the right person, serving in the right place, in the right way, at the right time. Always be looking for people who are not serving because those who are already serving are usually already overcommitted. Invite them to try out the team they feel would be the best fit for them but give them permission to “test drive” that ministry. You do not want anyone serving on a team that makes them miserable because, before long, everyone will be miserable on the team. You have work to do. Pray for the Lord to send laborers.