Building A Missions Team
One of the common questions that comes up in conversations with church leaders is, “How do we start a missions team?” These are good churches who want to be on mission, but for whatever reason – poor experiences in the past, people who have moved away, etc. – find themselves needing to build a missions team. If you’re in this boat, or even just looking to fine-tune your missions team, the following are some key concepts to think through as you begin this process.
- Purpose. Clarity in the purpose of a team is essential to its success. An earlier article outlining the Five Aspects of Local Church Missions would be a great place to begin. By putting this target on the wall, you’re then able to move forward into the practical strategies.
- Composition. While a team might include the lead pastor, he shouldn’t lead the team. One purpose of a team, after all, is to spread the responsibility of ministry. It might be wise, though, to have a board member on this team; not to lead it, but to provide greater connection for these two important groups. One more thought; teams that are too big move too slow, and teams that are too small suffer from lack of collective creativity, so finding the right team size for your church is important.
- Responsibilities and Roles. This is where the rubber meets the road – what will this team actually do? The fine line between too much detail and too little specificity must be navigated for this aspect to have significance. You may also find it helpful to outline roles for team members to organize and distribute the workload.
- Expectations. Unlike responsibilities and roles, which define success, expectations frame the posture behind the team. They answer the curiosity of a potential team member who asks, “What do you expect of me?” This is an important place to articulate the “unwritten” rules of the team.
- Authority. If a team is going to be successful they will need legitimate amounts of autonomy and authority. Naturally they are amenable to the church board, but if the board disregards all of their recommendations and re-debates all of their discussions, the team will correctly assume that they are wasting their time. Either the church board forms a team they trust, or they do the work themselves. To this end, public recognition of a team and budgeted funds for their work, go a long way to legitimizing their existence.
If you want to explore this further, this document provides a few additional notes as well as a sample missions policy from an active Alliance church. This is a big topic and these resources are still being refined, but my hope is that the train of thought will be easy to follow and that it will inspire new thoughts to assist you as you work to build this team. Please feel free to call me anytime – I would love to discuss any of this with you, or even meet with your missions team to lead them through it.
Together with you,
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 647-2764