How to Build Unity on Your Church Staff
By Rodney Cox
As I travel the country and world speaking to leaders, my heart breaks hearing their stories. Division in churches has become so commonplace that those of us in ministry have either experienced a split or know someone who has. It may shock you to learn that in the U.S., 1,600 pastors are terminated or forced to resign their pulpits each month and each year 3,500 – 4,000 churches close their doors.1 It’s true – and please do not think you are exempt.
On a more positive note, I’ve also seen hundreds of churches and staffs transform in miraculous ways, moving from the brink to become effective and vibrant.
That’s what eventually happened with Phil and Steve, two pastors placed together by God to serve His people. Over time, aggressive, dynamic Phil struggled to accept Steve’s methodical, systematic approach to problem-solving and managing change. Differences threatened to terminate the relationship and create deep division in the staff. Before things came to a head, Phil recognized how Steve was wired differently from him. But could he value the differences Steve offered – and even take a step further, intentionally seeking out ways to help Steve excel in his strengths?
A Practical Way to Build Unity
First Corinthians 12:12-27 explains a very practical way to build unity: “There should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other” (NIV). The same idea is expanded in Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (NIV).
This tells me that division is rooted in self-centeredness, favoritism or elitism – an elevated concern, value, or focus on one member. Division is avoided, God says, when every member has an equal concern and sober judgment for every member of the team.
The opposite of division is unity, which is built when each member places a high value on every other member. Each one’s strengths are valued and understood, combining to make a blended whole. Building unity rarely just “happens,” but requires intentionality. Leaders make the choice to operate as God’s instrument to help members find their place and lead from their strengths.
What Happened to Phil and Steve?
Phil chose to intentionally build unity in his staff. He led them through a simple Leading From Your Strengths team-building process [http://www.ministryinsights.com/leaders/leading-strengths-discovery-kit/] – a positive experience that emphasizes each individual’s unique strengths and helps them understand why God strategically placed them together in the ministry. Each staff member completed the strengths profile, and then shared openly about how God had uniquely wired them. Members sought to understand each other. As they processed the information, the group soon realized how God had brought them together to complement each other’s strengths in an amazing way.
The Mystery of Differences asks, “How is God able to take a curious collection of people and make them into a well-functioning unit?” God solves the mystery of differences by combining our different strengths to make us more together than apart.
The only remaining mystery is this: will you submit to His plan to bring about that wonderful transformation in your staff?
Author and speaker Rodney Cox is one of the country’s emerging leaders in the strengths movement. He is founder and president of Ministry Insights, an equipping ministry that brings personality assessment tools to the Christian market.
The Leading From Your Strengths Team-Building Discovery Kit contains all resources your staff needs to understand your differences and build a productive, efficient, energized team. The kit allows any facilitator to lead a team-building experience, regardless of past exposure to the strengths movement. [http://www.ministryinsights.com/leaders/leading-strengths-discovery-kit/]
1 “Why SonScape Retreats?” SonScape. www.sonscape.com/aboutus.htm (accessed October 29, 2008).