In Part 1 I wrote about the need of having an annual pastoral staff retreat, with envisioning, prayer and team building as priority on the agenda. If you missed this and my pointers on prayer you can read my post here.
The second objective of a staff retreat is Team Building.
All pastoral staff are usually given a specific ministry for which he (or she) is personally responsible. While he may be the man in-charge of that ministry he is not, however, to function in a silo. It is very unfortunate that the latter is a common problem in many churches. This is true of both paid staff and unpaid volunteers. Too many church workers are focussed only on their ministry, they fight for the church’s resources for their ministry, they even pray just for their ministry—oblivious of the bigger picture.
It is critical that everyone works as a team, including the leaders across the various ministries of the church (and, leaders need to lead the way and show the way). The greater the unity the greater the effectiveness. The greater the bond between the workers the greater the unity. The better the understanding of one another’s ministry and how each adds to the health of the church the stronger the shared vision to advance the church.
The pastoral staff retreat is a wonderful opportunity to foster this very much needed team spirit. They set the tone and the example for the rest of the church.
How is this done?
At a staff retreat bonding between staff can happen informally over meals or over a cup of tea during the “free hours”. In such an atmosphere it is natural to catch up on family, share about personal aspirations or even air personal ministry struggles. At a right moment with the right person, colleagues often easily open up to one another on deeper personal issues, which might otherwise be hidden away.
While connections between staff members may happen spontaneously in the conducive atmosphere of a retreat, still, it is extremely helpful to schedule into the programme exercises for team building. The lead pastor or someone in the group may facilitate the exercises, but that may mean that that person will not be able to participate. At one retreat we invited a professional team builder to join us, and it proved to be very useful as all the staff could participate in the exercises.
In some of the staff retreats I had led, I had some time carved out in the programme to evaluate how we had done as a team. We asked questions like, What have we accomplished as a team? How would we rate the support we received from each other? How much do we know of each other’s personal and ministry challenges? What are some things we can do to strengthen our team spirit? The sharing helped us to understand and appreciate one another more.
The ultimate purpose of building team spirit among a group of colleagues is to enable them to work together effectively. Hence, it isn’t enough just to have social camaraderie over a cup of coffee or to bond during team building exercises. As the saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,”—so, the test of the team is during those times when the team members work together.
The Staff Retreat is one such platform when this happens. This “planning” time calls for as much team work as when the team is carrying out a project for the church. Regardless of what’s up for discussion, each is to bring his (or her) contribution to the table, and together the team forge a united way forward for the common good of the church. This is part of the envisioning process which I hope to write about in Part 3 next week.