Staffing an Associational Revitalization Team
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states that one of the critical pieces of leadership is getting the right people on the right seats of the bus. If you are thinking of building an Associational Revitalization Team to serve your churches, you have determined that you need a bus; but who will be on it?
Having the right people on the team is at least as important as having a team. Finding those people can seem intimidating. Additionally, it can be tempting to simply fill the team with whoever is willing, or to pick people that will bring name recognition. You certainly cannot force anyone to serve on the team, so finding willing people is important. Additionally, a few well-known pastors can have a deep influence on a church’s willingness. But there are more and deeper qualities that can help us find the right people for the team. Here are a few of the things you will need:
1. Revitalizing pastor: if it is at all possible, having someone on the team that is an experienced replanter or revitalizer will bring field experience to the team, and help the process of revitalizing and replanting be more than simply theoretical. Restarting a church is hard work that is almost impossible to understand if you have not experienced it; a revitalizing pastor on the revitalization team helps build categories based on experience. Additionally, he can share his story of hope to churches that need hope; this alone is a powerful tool.
2. Deep thinker: someone who reads the books, considers the theories, compares them to Scripture, and helps others think deeply about a biblical theology of church revitalization and restarting is an incredible asset to the team. This is more than simply a “smart guy;” it’s a person who can communicate difficult truths in clear, simple, helpful ways.
3. Prayer warrior: I believe this is the single most important person on the team. All ministry work is prayer work; this includes the work of this revitalization team. There needs to be a continued focus on praying, and there needs to be a person who can continually point the team back to the necessity of prayer. A faithful, understated, yet confident prayer warrior can make the greatest difference in the effectiveness of the team, because the effectiveness of the team is dependent on God’s work. God delights in moving and working through prayer.
4. Strong leader: someone who can conduct timely, efficient meetings, who can keep conversations on point, and who can confront strongly, yet lovingly will be essential both for team conversations and for conversations with potential churches. A humble, yet well-defined, sense of identity and awareness of their specific giftings will pay dividends to the team.
5. Encouraging motivator: the work of revitalization and replanting is discouraging. Every team needs a Barnabas. Look for the person who has knowledge and passion yet loves to come alongside and encourage other men to work well and for God’s glory. Look for a person who can come in with a pastoral attitude into a tense conversation. Seek out the person who has a tempered idealism that can balance out the sober realism that sets in over time.
6. Healthy church pastor: notice what I did not say here. I did not say “big church pastor.” I did not say “successful church pastor.” I said healthy church pastor. What churches in the association are models of unity, of disciple-making, and of community impact? The size of the church is completely irrelevant. The model of church health is what is relevant. Find a pastor that understands what a healthy church is and is leading a church based on that definition.
7. You: As a Director of Missions (AMS), you bring a perspective that no one else on the team will have. This is extremely important! Your experience, energy, and wisdom will be in many cases the glue that helps bind the team together. Don’t undervalue your role on the team. At the same time, be sure that you are a facilitator, a member of the team, and an asker of good questions. Don’t rule over the team; facilitate it. Aid in its work, and watch what God does through a solid, unified revitalization team.
Getting the right people on the right seats of the bus leads to contentment among the Associational Revitalization Team members, commitment to a unified purpose, and confidence as they serve together from their individual strengths. This in no way means you need 7 members of your team as the size of your Association and the availability of people to serve may require a smaller team. You can have a person who may serve multiple roles; however, it is important to try to find each of these characteristics to bring to the table as you seek to serve churches.
About the author: Scott Catoe is a replanter serving at Slater Baptist Church, a mill village church in Northern Greenville County. He provides leadership for the Three Rivers Baptist Association Revitalization Team in an effort to strengthen associational churches.