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Key Elements that Make Team Work

Teamwork makes the dream work!!  

This was the slogan on a t-shirt I owned and I made a joke about trying to sneak the expression into a staff meeting as many times as possible while wearing the shirt. By the third time, people were catching on so much that it started showing up in announcements made by other people as well. 

Is teamwork, the key to a vision or a dream actually happening? It may not be the only thing that makes a dream become reality but it’s really important. How do we make ‘team’ work? In YWAM we have a value of working in teams and it feels really incredible when you are on a great team that is functioning well and being effective. We need strong teams in YWAM but you can’t just make that happen or hope that the people who have the same passions will work well together. 

Here are four elements that are key to a team working well.  

  1. Being known builds trust – Teams work well when the people on the team feel known by others. Often that starts with getting to know the people you are working with, not just their biography or YWAM history but what are their gifts, their strengths, skills, passions, and things that make them come alive. Teams work better when people feel known, trusted, wanted and encouraged.  Humility is so key in building trust. Humility is being known for who you are nothing more and nothing less. Humility says I know my weaknesses are A and B and I need people around me who can help me. Humility also says I know I am strong in these areas and I want to help others and build up the team in this way. Humility comes easier when we feel known by others and we don’t have to put our defenses up. Humility leads to greater trust and trust is key to a team working well. 
  • Good Communication– Often we say that communication is key in a team. Usually, we are thinking about what we say but actually good communication starts with good listening. Teams work well when people listen to understand each other, not just to respond to what is being said. If there is one thing that I’ve heard the most from teams is that communication is something they want to improve or grow in. Why? Because a huge part of doing things in a team is communicating. It’s involved in shaping vision, hearing what is on people’s heart, making a plan, executing the plan or strategy, evaluating how it went and on and on. We are always communicating and we should always be listening.  A few things I have learned about communication is that the more ways you can communicate the better and the more often you communicate the better.  Good communication isn’t one person’s job in the team and it’s definitely not just one person’s responsibility. Communication is a mixture of skills that can be learned and a commitment by each team member to grow in the area of listening and communicating well.
  • Common Purpose– Teams often are formed around a certain task or a vision. Maybe it’s a short term project or even a long term vision but one thing that helps teams work well is that they have a shared purpose. I’m not talking about one person having a vision and everyone following behind them making it happen. The best teams I have been a part of were when we had a shared purpose and each person on the team was invested into seeing that purpose happen. When you have a common purpose and you are moving toward something it helps keep  the team motivated. Common purpose doesn’t mean everyone doing  the same action steps or everyone thinking the same but it keeps the team moving in the same direction, it helps to unify a team. I always think of this team building activity where you are trying to get an object from point A to point B but there is one person who has secretly been told to try to take it to another point or to keep it at point A. It’s so frustrating and immediately you start feeling like you’re constantly battling with someone on the team.  Finding your common purpose as a team usually comes from good communication and knowing what is on each other’s hearts. (See points 1 and 2)
  • Fun– Is fun really a key element to a team working well?? My response would be, have you ever been on a team that was not fun? Trust me you would remember and when fun is missing you know it.  The value of fun in a team is immeasurable. The team, the purpose, the project becomes just a task to do or a problem to be solved. Fun can look different in different teams and even scheduled fun can be helpful but I hope that when you build relationships in a team and you get to know people that fun will flow naturally. Fun comes from that place of simple enjoyment of eating together, telling stories, laughing together, seeing the funny side of situations, and even doing things that aren’t about the ministry. A team that values fun works well together because people feel good and have better friendships when fun is involved. In Richard Foster’s book ‘The Celebration of Discipline’ one of the twelve that he mentions right up there with prayer, fasting and solitude is celebration. Does your team have a discipline of celebration? Are you having fun together?  It’s truly key to a team working well so find what that looks like for your team. 

I often think of Jesus as being great at teamwork. He and his disciples lived and worked together and knew each other really well. Jesus trusted them and they trusted Him. Jesus was great at communicating and listening and he built a team of disciples who caught the vision and were fully invested in seeing Him known. They had that common purpose. Did they have fun? I know Luke 7:34 says that “ The Son of Man came eating and drinking…” so they must have had some fun with all that food and being together at weddings and around dinner tables. 

I hope that as new vision, ministries, and projects are started in YWAM Europe and new teams start forming that you will put a high priority and value on doing the things needed to help your teams be the best they can be. I hope that not only the fruit of the team work but also the team itself reflects God’s character to others. 

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