Greentown little league, 1991.
I was ten. And I played little league.
That’s me in first row, third kid from the left.
I played outfield for the Greentown Cheetahs. Ferocious. Intimidating. Indomitable.
Well, not exactly.
Between the summers of 1987-1988 we won just one game. Just one game. And I still maintain my suspicion that our solitary win only came because our coach may have paid off the umpire.
No one likes to be on the losing team – even if you are getting free ice cream afterward. You want to be a part of a successful team. A team that’s making a difference. Ministry is a team sport. Whether there are twenty of you or two of you. Here are three reasons why children’s and youth ministries can fail:
1. We don’t agree on ‘the win’
Lack of clarity in a team can be a huge momentum-killer. When teams don’t know what it looks like to ‘win,’ they can struggle with insecurity, confusion, and anxiety. What does “success” look like in your ministry? That’s a great question to ask not just for the long-term, but in the short-term, too. What are the top priorities for your ministry in the next month? Six months? Year? What initiatives are a part of those priorities?
Instead – lead like a coach attentively watching from the dugout: define short-term wins, long-term wins, and then build momentum accordingly. Your team will feel secure and you’ll have them on board.
2. We only connect around ‘ministry’
Ministry is a great reason for a team to come together. But it shouldn’t be the only reason. When a team connects only around what they do, their relationships to each other are reduced to mere function. And when function is all you have, it becomes easier to check out.
Healthy teams become healthy because of a shared identity and mutual responsibility. Think about great teams that you’ve been a part of: There is usually a sense of friendship that is cultivated over time. Focus your attention on building remarkable relationships – beyond function. Solid teams will follow.
3. We’re not content
Left field isn’t a glorious place to spend your summer. I was pretty sure that my coach only put me out there for two reasons: 1) no 7-year old could actually hit the ball out of the infield anyway and 2) the dandelions needed some baseball-cleat-style uprooting. Maybe you feel like you’re in left field right now: Serving beneath your gifts. Under utilized. Not being recognized for your potential.
Spend time thinking about what is at stake if you faithfully serve where you are right now. Not where you’d like to be. But where you are. What opportunities has God given you in your present position? How are you uniquely gifted to meet those opportunities? What kids’ lives can be enriched if you’re fully present?
Here’s to successful teams. With lots of ice cream after the game.
(Incidentally, the above pic shows our All-Star team in 1991. Our team went 13-1 that year. By then, I had moved to catcher and had developed an affinity for Superman ice cream.)
How about you?
Does your team struggle with any of these? Something different?
How are you overcoming them?