Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Church as a team

Posted on 01 Feb 2014 in Christianity, Church, Discipleship, Leadership | Comments Off on Church as a team

The eve of the big game is here. We are now officially less than 24 hours from Super Bowl XLVIII where we will see the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in a highly anticipated matchup. The league’s best offense goes against the league’s best defense; there is a rising star that is featured (Russell Wilson) and perhaps the greatest quarterback of any generation (Peyton Manning). Along with the hype and pageantry, the glitz and the glamor, the notoriety and the star power, there is something that often gets lost: only one team will experience that feeling Monday morning.

Right now, both teams are excited, both are feeling the pressure, and both are hyped to play. Both the Seahawks and the Broncos are feeling on top of the world. But one three hour game will change everything for one of those teams.

One will go out as “World Champions” while the other will go home (as I like to say) the “First-place loser.”

As simple as it sounds, there is one thing to know going into this game: the best team will win.

It’s the same in all sports. Ask Lebron James who carried the Cleveland Cavilers on his back for years without anything to show for it. Perennial MVP and dubbed “King James” his time in Cleveland is largely viewed as a failure because he failed to produce any championships. Off he flew to Miami, where for less money, but more team, he has won two straight championships and solidified himself as one of the greats.

Ask Carmelo Anthony who can score seemingly at will (he recently scored 62 points in a single game), and yet is largely panned for his selfish attitude and failure to consistently make the play-offs, let alone win a championship ring.

The list could go on: the rising stars that get the importance of a team, and the rising egos that think they can do it all themselves. For everyone that creates a healthy team atmosphere, there is someone else that works hard to get the stats to show their own greatness

Some, see the team only as a means to exploit others for their own personal gain.

Others see the team as the only way to assure victory.

I see these attitudes in church a lot too.

There are those that long for a title, status, position, or salary bracket to show that they’ve made it. They utter phrases like, “The buck stops here.” or “This is MY ministry.” or even “I’m in charge and call the shots.” For them, the team is not a community to fellowship with, but a group of persons to exercise authority over. The point of leadership, is not discipleship, but will enforcement. Others exist for the gratification of the leader.

[pullquote]”The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Luke 22:25-26[/pullquote]

But that type of leader, even more importantly that type of church, never makes it very far. They are limited, even if the pastor or leader of a ministry is particularly skilled or gifted. When they have to call the shots on everything, they limit the effectiveness of everyone around them. By micromanaging all decisions, they show that they care more about themselves and maintaing status than glorifying Christ.

So for the church to truly be effective, it must rethink the way it handles, delegates, and conceptualizes leadership. For the church to succeed, it must be a team. The goal of the pastor is not to be the leadership executive, but the ministry coach. The goal is not for self-promotion but for an equipping of the saints. Good pastors realize that the church goes farther when everyone plays on the same team, instead of playing for self-recognition.

The great failure of pastors today is when they mirror the church to the business model fad and not the discipleship model that Jesus requires. Failure to readjust our priorities will result in failure to fulfill the Great Commission: our call from Jesus to make disciples. Pastors, as leaders of a local community, must make the focus of their work the empowerment and edification of the team to accomplish this singular and directive focus in ministry.


Want more thoughts like this? Check out these past posts for more information and ways to move forward.

Community or Collective Individualism?

Collaboration instead of competition


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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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