I was at one of our congregations on Sunday when someone (quite reasonably) asked why the staff team had several days away last week. It’s a reasonable question and one I thought worth making the effort of a post about because it may help people, not only in Springfield, why it is so important.
This was the first time that I had taken the staff and wardens away overnight (in this case for two nights) and having done it I definitely don’t expect it to be the last. Having taken the staff away I have discovered a number of key reasons why it is really important to do so.
It builds trust within the team. The team working together and playing together built a level of trust we hadn’t seen before. Put people in a new situation and you start to see new things about them and relationships deepen and strengthen.
It gives us a chance to listen to God as a team and spend time in worship and prayer seeking his guidance and direction.
It builds the team together. When you only have one or two staff this can seem not so important, even though in reality it is. Indeed when you have few paid staff then you normally have something other leadership teams that need to work together. We now have eight staff and two wardens over two sites. I wish that we had started when we took Sue and Becca onto the staff team four years ago. At that point a staff team of five was of sufficient size to build together as a team. At ten its vital.
It is a chance to look at major areas that impact the whole church and therefore all the ministries that the staff are responsible for. We can no longer run a growing complex church like Springfield on a purely “Heads of departments” type approach. No ministry is an island and each is linked to all the others and this became very apparent on our time away together.
It gives us a chance to plan for the future. In our days away we have outlined some key strategic areas that we believe that we need to focus on in the future to help Springfield stay a vibrant healthy church. These will be used as the basis for our discussion with the wider church leadership in May. This would not be possible without the significant ground work that we have done as a team together.
It values the team. All of the staff work long and demanding hours and taking them away to a nice place shows that we value them and what they do for the church. We have an exceptional staff team and we need to show that we value them.
It allows us to look at areas that we don’t have time to tackle during normal days. Since the staff team is mostly part-time it is difficult to find a time when everyone can take sufficient time to look at an area that we need to plan or review in depth. Also as the team grows and we need to hear all the different voices we need longer to process things. We really struggled on our away day earlier this year trying to achieve all that we wanted – and quite honestly we failed and didn’t have time to do all we wanted.
Time together allows space for other related issues to come out and be discussed. When you have no time other than to be task focussed you don’t have time to listen to the voices, as a team, where there is stress or difficulty. Making this time allows the team as a group to grow in appreciation of each other.
It gives space for the team to challenge one another. When our main meeting point is the Tuesday morning meeting there is a lack of time and space to be able to challenge one another and we can have a tendency to just listen about each other’s areas of ministry.
It gives a chance to have fun together. A team that enjoys each others company is far stronger in working together. One of the great times last week was the time when we laughed together. It built trust and an openness and an ease together. When the going gets tough this is so important for a team.