Ten reasons why you should take a church staff team away

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.

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3 comments on “Ten reasons why you should take a church staff team away

  1. Jean
    November 21, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Amen and amen to that Will. In my case, having a ‘day job’ as well as my warden role, this was an opportunity for me to get to know the staff team better AS a team, rather than as individuals. Just as importantly, I was able to contribute to all the work that we did and helped me to feel very much part of the team. As one of the Roundshaw congregation it is vital that we make a conscious effort to stay connected to the whole Springfield. Church history, (I know a bit), teaches us the importance of unity.
    There is also a danger in leaving decision making to one or two people – having all of us together allowed us to bring new insights from our own point of view and from the wider congregation – the people we come into contact with. Again, if I may give a personal view, one of my roles as a warden, an elected post, is to listen to people and represent their views in leadership discussions and decisions. Just a note to readers….. When I use the word ‘decisions’, this really refers to the areas we have decided to bring to the leaders away day next spring. A much bigger team can then begin to put nuts and bolts on the areas we feel it is right to us and the Holy Spirit to focus on.
    I am not a fan of formal team building exercises, but laughing together over one silly joke does the trick every time!

  2. Sue Bosley
    November 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I now appreciate how vital it is to create time and space for a team to grow and build together
    Time to go deeper into areas of Springfield’s ministries, to listen and share ideas and reflections. Time to work together was so valuable to being able to connect with all the different areas of responsibility and ministries within the team.
    Space away from the phone, emails and family allowed us to really focus on what we were there to do as a team.
    It also gave God time and space to work in us and among us as individuals and as team.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one to come away with renewed confidence in God’s calling, a great sense of friendship and trust in one another and a clear sense of where God is leading us together as a church.

  3. nig
    November 22, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I’ve been church administrator for some years now, and it’s all too easy to get totally task focussed with the weekly churn of things that MUST be done. Even though I sit in the middle of many of the goings on, a view of the whole is hard to get when dealing with the detail.
    The time away was not easy as there was much deep discussion and consideration of the realities of being part of God’s church, but it was humbling to re-discover that I am part of a team that passionately believe in God’s calling and mission for us.
    The interlinking and cross fertilisation of the different ministries, all underpinned by the outworking of our embracing the values we hold as a church at Springfield, was great to see- over the course of the days we were able to tease out where they have been working, and to discern possibilities of how to better utilise our strengths in future, as well as how the values inform the way forward for areas where we are not so strong.
    I was once again blown away by the gifts that people at Springfield have, and use so freely- not just the staff team, but the whole church. It’s so good to see the ways God has blessed us.
    Away from the serious discussion, seeing various members of the staff team helpless with laughter – after an inadvertant seal impersonation while trying to say ‘oleander’ – (you know who you are), cemented our acceptance of each other more fully as friends who we can rely on and trust in the days ahead.
    We live in interesting times, and it is good to be part of such a strong, gifted and visionary team

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