Archive for the ‘Team’ Category

I’ve been processing what separates teams that are great from those that are just good (sounds like a book title, I know). To say you’re on a “good” team or you’ve got a “good” team sounds bland to me. It says the team is adequate. The identifier “good” in team even implies that there are better teams outperforming the team you, only moments ago, thought so highly of.  Is that your goal?

My goal is to find and be a part of some of the best teams imaginable. But whether it’s a staff team, a sports team, a team of camera operators or ushers and greeters, what separates them from just being good? What kind of goals does that team need to have to be the best at what they do? A great team doesn’t need to be number one, or even the best; they just have the intention of getting there.

I recently spoke at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Mich.  Steve Coyner along with his tech crew from the Image Magnification team attended the sessions because they want to take over the title of “the greatest I-Mag crew on the planet.” You can imagine their surprise when I indicated that I had the incredible privilege to be the staff representative for the “greatest I-Mag team on the planet” at Granger Community Church.

This isn’t a post on the greatest I-Mag team on the planet – although I think they are – but, rather, it’s about what sets any team apart as the greatest. In some ways, it’s talent, and in others, experience and training. Becoming the greatest certainly includes the way team members are valued and encouraged as they engage in ministry. The way teammates take ownership in the team and respond to the responsibilities of being the greatest is another significant factor.

The reality is – and I may be telling you something you already know – you can and must have components of all of the above. But if you, as the leader of any team, are not casting a compelling reason for your team to engage, your team might be “good,” but it’ll never cross over to great.

Yep, it all comes down to vision. Even though you already know that, here’s my question: Are you casting a good vision (adequate) or are you casting great vision to inspire a great team? Do team members arrive fired up because they know they have the opportunity to help change lives because of their ministry?  Do they know that it’s even ministry? Do team members have the “mission from God” attitude? (That just sounds like vision)

As a leader, ask yourself this question: Are team members doing what they do out of obligation, compulsion or guilt, or do they have a passion to serve based on a compelling vision that’s been given to them?

As you communicate, add great vision to the equation and you will lead great teams.

Here’s a Rock star that’s been around since the inception of Granger Community Church: Sheila Beeson. OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Sure, pick the senior pastor’s wife – that’s not going to hurt.” Well, get over it.

Without apology, I’ve decided to spotlight Sheila because her influence in the children’s ministry has marked the lives of thousands of children for the Kingdom. She’s placed the name of Jesus before children nearly every weekend for the past 25 years. For decades, Sheila has the led charge in the Penguin Room (5 year olds-2nd grade). Her influence on the lives of these impressionable souls is paralleled only by her influence on the leaders she’s mentored along the way.

You know you’re a rock star leader when you’ve got volunteer rock stars that willingly follow your lead. John Maxwell says, “If you think you’re leading, and you look over your shoulder and no one’s following, then you’re just taking a walk.” Shelia’s never been known to “just take a walk.”

Although this rock star post is about Sheila, she’ll divert all the attention back to her team – and she should; that’s a prerequisite for entering the category of rock star. Her influence on her team of volunteers has kept them in the “game” for 10, 15, even 25 years (and everything in between).

Sheila, like every great ministry leader, has cried and prayed with her team. She’s opened herself up to them and has earned their friendship and trust.  She’s led with dignity and humbled herself while never forgetting the children and the incredible privilege of presenting Christ to them. She’s prepared for over 1,000 weekends and then given those very weekends to live and breathe in that privilege. Want to know one of the things Sheila likes to do in the middle of the week? She loves volunteering. Serving guests and encouraging volunteers on their journey has become part of the life she’s modeled in her 25 years at GCC. Mark captured the above photo of his bride at the most recent Food Drop. Can’t think of one of those she’s missed either.

The truth is rock stars like Sheila hate all the attention. To alleviate some of the attention, I want to call out the rock stars who continue to partner with her in love and prayer as they teach children the values of the Kingdom.

For 15- to 20-plus years: Joanne Rendall, Karen Nowak, Liz Ditto, Kathy Avery, Ann Snyder and Claudia Volheim (Yeah, I know. That’s not going to hurt either).

For about a decade: Otto Taylor, Connie Kamerer, Dan Sipress, Chuck Atwell and Betty Stafford.

An amazing group led by an amazing leader. Their service has been – and continues to be – a privilege and blessing to GCC’s children’s ministry. Thank you, Sheila, and thanks to your team for setting the pace for volunteerism.


You’re Invited

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Encouragement, Leadership, Team

We’re running a VolunTOUR at GCC this weekend! I’m juiced because the upfront work is done. We selected the weekend long ago to match the message content. The promotion’s been out there for weeks as well. The bonus is that there’s a supporting media that shows hundreds of volunteers in action. The printed materials are ready and the tour stations are set. Our guides and leaders are ready.

Mark Beeson will invite guests (as only Mark can do) after each service to check it out, which will successfully challenge many. I’ve made it easy: I’ve linked emails with the information, written extensively about the benefits of volunteering in a dozen posts and I’m talking about it everyday.

As great as the tour is – and as ready for the tour as we are – there’s still nothing better than an invite from a friend (It’s that shoulder tap thing). There’s no magic bullet when it comes to motivating people out of the seat they’ve grown comfortable in. There are systems up front that can be worked on and there are programs we can all utilize but nothing will replace the one-on-one conversations or the “ask.”

What if everyone asked just one friend to check out the VolunTOUR? Did you ever think of the impact that might make on our churches, on our ministries or, especially, on our people? What if each of us (as fully committed Christ followers) was determined to point at least one person we knew toward an opportunity, to look at a next step, a step that could change them forever?  You think I’m exaggerating? Nope. I’m convinced a well-functioning team can transform the life of anyone instantly and, quite possibly, during their greatest time of need.

Here’s the bottom line on this one: If we’re not willing to make the “ask” – if we decide that we’ll let someone else shoulder that end of the responsibility – then perhaps it’s time to re-examine our roles as leaders.  Are we teaching the tools without utilizing them ourselves? Are we as motivated as those who serve with us, work for us and give beyond their forty?

Commit to ask; we all have someone in mind.


We’re on the last post of this series. All previous excuses for not volunteering were real. I’ve protected the names of the guilty, listened to their words in disbelief and offered replies as therapy for myself. After all, that’s kind of what blogs are all about. Here’s the final countdown – heard of any of them?

#7 “God hasn’t called me to serve”

Really? Here’s another top 10:

#8 “I’ve served for years … let the young people step up”

Yep, let ‘em step up. But here are a couple of things for your consideration: there’s no age limit on service and no such thing as too much service. As long as you’ve got breath, you’re called to advance the Kingdom. There might be physical limitations that restrict us, but there’s never a shortage of ministry opportunities during the “golden years.” The joy factor in giving of your time doesn’t have to extinguish at 65, 70 or 90. In fact, the fruits of your experiences can mentor to the generations to come if you let them.

Our role as servants to the King doesn’t have an expiration date, save for the day of Christ’s return. You wouldn’t consider decades of loving and forgiving one another as an excuse to stop– why would serving others be any different?

#9 “All the church wants is my time and money”

Not true. Many churches want you to come on Easter and Christmas, too.  Sorry, I just stepped back into sarcasm. My guess is that if you’re not serving, it’s highly probable that you may not be tuned in to the heart and vision of your church. Real growth happens outside of that one-hour Sunday thing.  It happens in the disciplines of a Christ Follower that include – but aren’t limited to – the time and money things. Growth happens as we build relationships, relationships often found while serving on a team. Growth happens when we’re seeking to help others without expectations or self-gratification. Growth happens when we realize we’re the ones growing from a selfless act of serving or giving.

#10 “No one has asked”

Sure, it’s great when we’re invited to stand arm and arm to make a difference with someone we know. It’s encouraging when others see our giftedness and tap us on the shoulder to join them on mission. That’s the best approach but, still, the invitation is all around us. It’s in the realization that consumer Christianity doesn’t have a part in changing our churches or our communities. Here’s the reality: If we, as Followers of Christ, utilize excuses to stop serving, not only are we causing a disservice to others but also stunting our own spiritual growth.


Ever wondered what serving “outside the box” might look like? If so, just follow the lead of this man, Les Rassi. He is the model of a Volunteer Rock star that has discovered opportunities outside the walls of the church.

A retired biology teacher in the public school system, Les – along with his wife, Velma – has probably served in 25 Habitat builds locally, nationally and internationally. I would think an abundance of ministry like that would be enough to get a free dinner with President Carter.

Les might be able to squeeze that dinner in, but it couldn’t have been on a Saturday during the two years that the Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3) remodeling project was taking place. Les and a team of construction volunteers were at MC3 nearly every weekend, transforming a rundown building into a safe community environment that has become the national model for what the church can do outside of its own walls. What an amazing ministry.

How about trying to squeeze this in – since the opening of that community center, Les and Velma can be found serving the guests that walk through MC3’s doors. They’ve given up nearly every Tuesday to serve coffee and pastries and distribute food and personal care packages to those in need.

That’s enough to be called a rock star in anyone’s book, but when you add to that the fact that the couple took this same servant spirit to the lower caste villages of India (five times!), then you’re really getting outside the box.

Les’ heart for helping others has found him putting new roofs on the homes of strangers and neighbors who’ve been left with far less than anyone reading this post has gotten by with. How do you explain hearts that give as much as the ones found in this couple? It can only be ascribed as complete devotion to loving others while following the call Christ has put on their hearts to serve.

Let me tell you what else Les has been up to lately. There’s this little place being transformed called the Veterans Center. It’s on the same scale of remodeling that MC3 experienced. It’s going to be another place that offers help to those who’ve found themselves in a difficult place in life. It will take hours of labor, weekend after weekend, and Les will be there – you can count on it.

There’s more but you’re getting the picture of what this rock star looks like. The simple truth is Les and Velma would say that helping others has transformed their lives more than the difference they’ve made. And they’re right. Les and Velma: Thank you for all you’ve done to be Jesus with skin “outside the box.”

#4 “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.”

That’s normal and we can fix that. Really. Unless you understand some basic principals of Rick Warren’s work revolving around the acronym SHAPE, you might just miss your calling a couple of times before you hit your sweet spot. Discovering your unique SHAPE (Spiritual gifting’s, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) will go a long way in helping you discover opportunities that don’t feel like you’re going to the dentist office every time your weekend to serve arrives. Serving doesn’t have to hurt to matter – but to those who are hurting, your serving matters. Whether helping to serve inside or outside the “box,” there are opportunities where we make a difference in the lives of others that will actually bring joy to our often self-centered lives. If at first you don’t succeed … but this time, bring a little SHAPE to the mix.

#5 “I don’t know what I want to do” (So you’ll keep doing nothing?)

Here’s what’s simple: If you’re not sure where to start, you might look into #4 and then be determined to “just say yes.” Here’s what’s difficult: It’s kind of just the reverse of breaking a bad habit.  In this case, you know you should do something but the gap between your head and heart is often filled with competing emotions of good intentions, distractions and deterrents. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat like a quote Oprah reportedly said in the news this week. It’s actually really meaningful: “People don’t change because of what they know but because of what they feel.” Profound. Let’s stop there. My hope in calling out all of these excuses is this: Christ Followers move from what they THINK in their heads is the right thing to deciding in their heart that it’s time to DO the right thing.

#6 “Everything’s under control” (I don’t think I’m needed)

Look around you – you’re kidding, right?! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that every ministry is fully staffed with volunteers and your church appears to be “under control” (pause for breath and reflection). What about outside the church “box?” What about the workplace where you might be a light in a dark world? What about the hurt you could bring relief to at your local shelter? Your community doesn’t have those problem areas? Well, I guess you’re not needed then. Which brings me to my second point: This entire serving thing (although sounding counter-intuitive) is about you! Why? Because you need to be in relationships. You need to be part of something outside of yourself. You need to feel the joy of giving. You need someone to tell you “thanks.” You need to know you’ve made a difference. You need to express your giftedness – to serve and do good works in this world because you (all of us) were made by God to do so. It’s that whole “salt and light” thing.  (Matt.5:13-16)

More excuses coming soon. I’m 56; I’ve heard many.

Excuses, Excuses. Top 10 cont.

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Team

#1 “I’m too busy to serve.”

Although I’m not ranking these excuses, it seems that if there were a number one reason, this would be it. There are seasons in everyone’s life where it seems like everything’s piling up. I get that. I also get that a season might just put you on the bench for a while, too; the job, the kids, the other job, the projects around the house, the kid’s illnesses, the tragic news that your spouse has cancer and even the death of a beloved one. These all can shift our focus off God.

Can I tell you about a man I know – let’s call him Dale (because that’s his real name). For years, Dale would invest one weekend a month running camera for our I-Mag team. It’s a challenging role as one weekend at GCC involves four services, each with its own rehearsal beforehand. Once a month, Dale chose to take this on in addition to the other ministries that he and his late wife, Kristy, were involved in. Dale chose to serve through all of the obstacles above. He’s modeled a servant’s heart for his eight children – yes, I said eight.  I think I’ll just stop and say that if your excuse is that you’re too busy to serve, you need to prayerfully consider the “Dale Factor” and determine if there really is no margin for some type of ministry.  Serving is a choice; perhaps not always a convenient one, but definitely one that leaves a positive impact.

#2 “I didn’t get anything out of it.”

Although this needs to be addressed, I would contend that first of all, it’s not about you. Your needs are not the point here. It’s a shame (see excuse #3) that you were not exposed to the incredible benefits of a well-functioning team but, really, serving is about giving. It’s about following the call of your heart as you are made aware of a need that fits your gifting. It’s about stepping up to help engage others so they can know Christ or to freely offer to give that “cold cup of water” to those without, thus modeling the love of Christ. Really, are you going to use this excuse? Others have, but I hope you’re too smart for that.

#3 “No one appreciated my time.”

Well, shame on us as leaders. I say that with complete sincerity. If we, as staff and ministry leaders, have not done our job by encouraging you on the path, we’ve been negligent. If we’ve failed to build a community of teammates where your name is known, your hurts are prayed for, time is set aside for friendship and conversation, opportunities are made for you to tell your story and you’re encouraged to listen, then we’ve dropped the ball.

If the impact of your ministry isn’t communicated and you’re not told “well done,” then shame on us. But please recognize that there’s room for growth in all of us. Challenge yourself to step up to model community to others as you serve so that no one has an excuse to say you’re not. The needs of the world are too big to allow our mistakes to cause us to loose heart and not engage in the call we’ve all been given. Trust me on this one – our Father sees and knows our hearts.  If the motive is pure, you’ll get an affirmation from the One that matters.

Three more next week-

All of the following are key factors in a successful “VolunTOUR”. They all carry great weight and are randomly listed.

Tour Guides: We’ve discovered that it’s of great benefit if the guides have the “DNA” of the church built in them.  Not only is it helpful for them to have a great understanding of the mission, vision and values of your church but a broad understanding of the ministries you offer.  They need to communicate with ease, all of this without reading a script to your guests. They represent your church, your ministries and MVV’s-be wise.

Promotion: Like anything, it’s a good idea to start talking about this a few weeks in advance. Let your existing teams know that they can invite others to at least look at the opportunities available.  Promote it from the screens, the web, announcements or media. Build the buzz-people often want to know what’s available.

Timing: A well-timed Tour is critical. If it’s perceived as an “add on” to the service, it will get lost in the myriad of great things your communicating over the weekend or at the event. Wrap it around a series on serving or giving or relationship. If not wrapped in a series, talk about it as an addendum within the message. Communicate the opportunity with a serving media. A well thought out Tour is going to yield a great turnout.

Follow Through: Nothing is worse than having all your ducks in order and fail on the last step.  Our guests are waiting for the follow through.  It often may not seem that way when your emails are not answered or phone calls not returned, but when we do our part right, the Spirit will open doors down the road. Besides that, it’s just good manors!

Preparation: Having accurate information for your guides, printouts that reflect current dates, clipboards and pens that work are no brainers. Having tour guides scheduled and communications to team leaders along with a plan for follow through are not going to hurt you either. Have the promotions running well ahead of time and build the anticipation.

Other Factors: A couple of “mock tours” were helpful to our tour guides. It gave us an opportunity to talk through some of big picture things we wanted to communicate. Things like “it’s about relationship”, a chance to rehearse a two minute discourse on a SHAPE. It’s important to keep these tours to 20 minutes-we’re still working on that one. And finally, utilize these tours in smaller venues.  They need not be church wide events, as a matter of fact, in our smaller gatherings of 25 or more we’ve had a very positive response.

I’m going to call these Rock Stars the dynamic duo of volunteerism at Granger Community Church (GCC). As always, my goal is to keep this post short – this is a difficult task when these two individuals do so much.

Mary and her son, Austin, have dedicated a number of years to Son City Kids, a ministry of the Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3) in South Bend, Ind. MC3’s goal is to transform an environment of low-income, subsidized housing into a vibrant, self-sufficient community. Son City Kids aims to provide after-school mentoring and tutoring, artistic programs and Christ-centered lesson plans to show love and hope to the children of these lower-income families. Mary and Austin spend countless hours each month giving their time to Son City Kids and to other MC3 programs.

I’m told that when you watch Mary in action at Son City Kids, there’s complete focus and dedication to engage the children. Because of Mary and Austin, these at-risk children are fed physically, spiritually, creatively and educationally; it’s no wonder they’re adored by the kids. The Son City Kids team leaders have expressed that they consider this duo to be the model and example of a successful relationship between those being served and those doing the serving.

When Austin isn’t being a role model for kids, you can find him behind a camera serving on our I-Mag team. What a gift he is to us. He has a natural tendency to point his camera in the right spot at the right time. That Austin takes on the additional responsibility of other ministries shows how much passion and commitment he has toward serving others; whether it’s with kids or behind a camera, Austin shines in the volunteer spotlight.

Mary and Austin are also regulars on the Guest Services team, where they can be seen assisting guests most every weekend. In addition, they both serve in Guest Services during our Wednesday Journey classes and 1st Wednesday services (when Austin’s not running a camera). They are the first to volunteer at MC3 as well as at the church during workshops and conferences for our WiredChurches ministry.

No matter their circumstances, Mary and Austin never question that their continued mission is to do God’s work. With Austin always at her side, Mary says, “I know God has a plan for me.” And so they continue to relentlessly serve so others can see Jesus. It never ceases to amaze me to see how Mary and Austin always seem to find more of themselves to pour into others. There’s no question; they are Rock Stars.

After nine months in my “new” position as Director of Volunteer Involvement at GCC, I’m convinced more than ever of the effectiveness of two key teachings that have been around our church for many years. Maybe you haven’t heard of them or, possibly, you have but weren’t aware of the implications as to how they could rock your ministry.

I’m referring to the “Shoulder Tap” and the “90-Second Ask.” Before you shut down and think, “I’ve heard this teaching before,” I’m asking you to consider examining each of these with a renewed passion. They are truly the most effective ways we can invite our circle of friends into life-changing environments.

Each approach has been well documented by two of our lead pastors, Tim Stevens and Mark Waltz. I’ve included a full explanation of each in two documents that can be read here and here.  Each document is two pages long and, while I encourage you to read them both, you can continue reading here for the Reader’s Digest version.

The “Shoulder Tap” simply acknowledges the fact that our friends and acquaintances – inside or outside the church – are more likely to make a decision to cross the line and become “involved” because that invitation has come from someone they know. What our friends don’t realize is that we’re inviting them into a community that is not only about serving, but also about being part of a team. More importantly, you’re inviting them into an experience where all of the benefits described in the previous 10 posts are lived out.

“The 90-Second Ask” acknowledges three steps of simple teaching that every ministry leader and team member can apply. The first step tells us to affirm what we see in your friends – and who doesn’t want to be affirmed! The second step involves opening the door to honestly state, “Because of the way I see you (friend’s name), I think you’d be in your element volunteering in (volunteer hot spot).” The third step cements “the ask”; now you get to tell your own story on how volunteering in an area of your giftedness has made an impact on your life. We all have stories of how our life is better because of our ministry and the relationships we’ve built through them. Maybe it’s the encouragement or acknowledgement from others – the point is, share it! It brings you encouragement while encouraging others.

Again, these documents are 5 minute reads and have the potential to not only change your teams, but to make an impact on the life of someone who’s yet to realize two key elements of every team: Your friend can make a positive impact on another as they decide to give of themselves AND at the same time, begin to have people build into them the very things I pray you’ve experienced as a team member.