Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 52, 3 Secrets to Building Better Leaders and Stronger Women’s Ministry Teams, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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3 Secrets to Building Better Leaders and Stronger Women’s Ministry Teams
I recently had the opportunity to connect with someone I served with on the women’s ministry team at a previous church.
As we were catching up and swapping stories, I admitted that during part of the time that we served together on the women’s ministry team I was miserable. Though I loved women’s ministry and the women in that church, I dreaded our women’s ministry team meetings.
There was a lot about our team that wasn’t healthy.
We were regularly clashing over ideas and tasks. We didn’t always treat each other with kindness or respect. We didn’t listen well and some of us were rather strong-willed. And yes, I said we. I was totally guilty too. I regularly returned home from our women’s ministry team meetings frustrated and upset. Tears were shed more often than I would like to remember.
We figured out ways to work through many of our issues with one another. A few apologies were offered and lots of grace was given. But we continued to struggle. There were times I wondered what it would take to turn things around permanently.
I was rather relieved when my time on that team came to an end. The drama was exhausting.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to serve in five different women’s ministry programs. Before stepping into women’s ministry I served on the leadership team of 3 different mommy groups and the children’s ministry team in our church. I spent some time on the Youth leadership team too.
I’m no stranger to team dynamics and working with people with different gifts and different ways of processing information and executing projects.
Thankfully that particular women’s ministry team I shared about earlier was the exception and not the rule. I’ve been blessed to serve on many healthy teams where unity and community were the rule and not the exception.
What’s the secret to teams that work well together?
Can you force women who are very different from one another to get along?
I believe there are intentional steps we can take to build better leaders and stronger teams.
3 Secrets to Building Better Leaders and Stronger Teams.
1. Learn together.
Healthy teams prioritize learning together.
Do a Bible study together, attend a conference, or read a leadership book together.
While you may have varying levels of experience on your team, no one knows it all. And as we discuss regularly, the needs of our women change over time. What worked in the past may not work in the future.
As long as we’re on the earth we have more to learn about God and His Word. If you’ve been a part of a Bible study, you know how relationships deepen as you study God together.
Learning together will encourage community and unity.
If you’ve already established a pattern of short devotionals focused on leadership at each women’s ministry team meeting, no one will raise an eyebrow if you decide to focus on confidentiality after some problems with gossip have been brought to your attention. Hopefully, you’ll only need to be proactive and not reactive.
2. Healthy teams serve together.
There’s something about hard work and completing a project as a group that creates bonds.
If you’ve ever stuffed swag bags for a retreat or manually assembled programs with a binder, you know the fellowship that happens as you work together. Completing rote tasks allows the conversation to flow. As you learn more about each other, it becomes easier to see the gifts God has given the others on the team. Working styles become obvious. You see which team members loved a detailed task list and which ones need more space to be creative. You find out who’s gifted in catching the details that others might overlook.
Here are a few quick ideas on serving together:
- Work a shift sorting donations at your local food pantry
- Make and take a meal to a family in need
- Volunteer to wrap Christmas gifts at the mall
- Organize clothing at a local clothing closet
3. Play together.
Women’s ministry leaders work hard, but we rarely get a lot of downtime with each other. If we’re not executing one event, we’re planning the next event.
When team members already have full schedules, it can seem a bit wasteful to schedule some time to do something fun together, but I promise it’s worth it!
The women’s ministry director at my current church does a great job of providing space for us to have fun together. I’ll share more about our team planning meetings in the next blog post, but there’s always scheduled time for something fun. Sharing our lives with one another as we wander through thrift stores or casually share a meal at a restaurant has deepened our relationships with one another.
I can say with certainty – we don’t just like each other, we all have developed a sisterly love for one another. It didn’t happen immediately though, it took time. And for perspective, our team went through lots of transitions over the last two years as two members stepped off and three new members stepped on.
You may be thinking, I’m not so sure that will work for us.
Is there proof that team-building efforts really make an impact?
I did a quick online search and found a lot of really interesting statistics about team-building in the workplace, that I think can be applied to ministry too.
Here’s a small sample.
- Being familiar with your team improves your performance over time. (Source)
- Socializing between team members improves communication patterns more than 50%. (Source)
- As many as 63% of women who have a best friend at work will be twice as engaged. (Source)
- Employee satisfaction increases by up to 50% when surrounded by people with whom they are friendly.
- Over 50% of employees have stayed at a company because they felt like part of a team. (Source)
- Camaraderie promotes group loyalty and dedication to work. (Source)
Isn’t that interesting? Think about how that applies to ministry.
I want the teams I serve on and lead to be productive, engaged, committed, loyal, dedicated, and communicate well.
While we can and should pray God will develop these qualities in the members of our teams, there are purposeful steps we can take to encourage growth with the goal of producing better team members.
- Learn together
- Serve together
- Play together
Today’s Toolbox Task:
- Brainstorm ways your team can learn together, serve together, and play together over the next six months.
- From that list plan at least two activities to build better leaders and stronger teams through learning, serving, and playing together.
In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul urges believers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
That’s a whole lot easier when we’ve been intentional to build better leaders and stronger teams.
You may also want to explore:
How to Build a Women’s Ministry Team
How to Host Great Women’s Ministry Team Meetings
Must-Read Leadership Books for Women’s Ministry Leaders
Volunteer Appreciation: Great Gifts and Guidance