Hey guys, I’m Melissa Lee. My husband Aaron and I are the NW Regional Youth Task Force Leaders. That is a mouth full so we’ve shortened it to NWRYTFL. You got that? We’ve been doing this for just a few years. We’re working our hardest to get our youth leaders in our region connected and planning events (with a huge team of course). We are new to Everett, Wa and are excited to see what God has planned for us here. We previously were at the Yakima Vineyard where we were youth leaders for seven years. Now, I know seven years is a long time…. but I also know there are leaders in our movement that have been doing this much longer than us. So I’m going to offer my story and thoughts on team building but also know I have lots to learn. If you have something to add, please do.
Team building is such an important part of any ministry. Whether starting a team from scratch or strengthening a current team it’s so important to have a group of trustworthy people working towards a common goal. Team building for me has looked different based on where I am in ministry, my season of life and my team.
When we started leading youth we were in our early twenties. Newly married with no kids, we were bright eyed and bushy tailed (not a bad place to be). We had never been in charge of a ministry before. It was us and about 30 kids and we had no idea what we were doing (ahhh!). It was very obvious that we needed more volunteers. We went through a season of short term helpers, saying yes to anyone that showed interest with youth. We were desperate!
We learned through these short term volunteers that when people asked to be apart of our team, we asked them to start by just showing up. Once they came for a couple weeks and had prayerfully considered if they would fit with our group then we invited them to stay. If they never showed up, or just came once or twice, then we saved our youth and ourselves from gaining/losing new leadership frequently.
This was followed by a season of just us showing up each week. Just showing up is a huge deal, in my opinion. In order to lead (become friends, grow together) you kinda have to be there. We didn’t have any programs in place or team supporting us, but we were growing deep relationships with our friends/youth. Some of these relationships have lasted over seven years. I believe that Jesus takes what we have to offer and he multiplies it. This was a hard season in our lives but looking back I can see it was an invaluable season of deep growth between us and our youth.
About five years into leading we had grown a core team of about six leaders. I say “we had grown” (ha) what I mean is six people committed to helping us and we said “Yes!” and “Thank you!”
We quickly realized we wanted to care for this core team we were beginning to love. We wanted them to know how valuable they were to us. This really was the best season of ministry for us. Not only were we hanging out with our youth we were doing it with a close-knit team of friends. Our leaders meetings centered around a meal and prayer for one another with a small agenda at the end (minuscule maybe?). A lot of business can be taken care of over text or email, but deep relationship cannot.
We wanted a place where we could care for our leaders. It turned into a place that we received care as well. There was a point in this group when I remember being asked if I wanted prayer for anything. I felt an important invitation: my friends want to know me deeper and help hold the weight of my life. What a beautiful turning point for our group. There is something in reciprocation that tightens a group. I know our group became closer because of shared vulnerability and care. When you are brave enough to be known and loved; a thin, holy place is created.
I’ve also had the privilege of being a part of teams that are diverse, caring and driven. Rose Swetman, the NW Regional Leader has done a phenomenal job of building a regional team that is just that. She has invited others to the group that are different from her. I have watched her listen and lead this group with grace and wisdom. She has shown me that who we invite to the table is important. We need to challenge one another with love and kindness. Rose does this well.
I asked Jimmy John Morris, our pastor when we were leading youth about team building and he had some great things to say. He’s very qualified, trust me. I asked him how he goes about team building, he said his first job is to ask questions and listen to his team. Meeting inside and outside of church, often around meals, he said “more happens at a meal than we know.” Jimmy John said he is always advocating for his team. This means helping his team get the resources (money, time up front, volunteers) they need to be successful. He casts vision and sets defined goals, while giving the work back to the group. He is giving them space to work on things together and watching for leaders that will eventually take his place, who he can “pass the baton” to.
We are better together, I’d love comments and resources!
What has been your biggest success in team building? Do you have wisdom to share with us?
Is there anything you learned through a mistake that you found valuable?