Looking back, establishing a new core team has probably seen the most changes and provided the hardest lessons.
Early on, to help my wife and I, an elder and his wife joined with us to get things started. They were part of our initial core team but we also saw them as our support couple and arranged to have regular catch ups in the early days to check in on how we were doing. These have now lessened over time as we established ourselves, the team, and the congregation, so now we simply know they are there should we need to chat.
We were invited to think who we could approach and offer the opportunity to help build this new gathering with us. We had a handful of friends we were confident would strengthen our team with their various gifts. So we got inviting.
Here’s where the lessons started to emerge!
When establishing a core team…personal, clear and sensitive communication was vital.
One of the first guys I invited received my invitation via a text. That probably says it all. The response was unexpected. I had a very long couple of texts back from him very late at night with him ultimately concluding that he would not join us, be going to the other congregation, and would be stepping away from that ministry he was serving that I’d asked him to lead.
So this was my first opportunity to share something with our support couple. We had a chat over the phone the next day, and they spoke to this friend of ours. As it happens he was going through some stuff connected to the church and life, so my impersonal, quick and blunt text didn’t help. In all fairness, I wasn’t aware of those things going on with my friend. However, from then I learnt the value of personal, clear and sensitive communication.
Personal in that speaking to people face to face will always be better than behind a screen. As a doer and someone who likes to steam roll through tasks, this can be difficult for me. Also, it’s not always necessary and an email or WhatsApp is absolutely fine depending on the situation. But I have seen the benefit of speaking to people in person when it comes to important decisions amidst big transitions in church life.
Clear in that, expressing exactly what you mean and what you don’t mean can prevent any confusion and awkwardness. Especially when lots of change is happening and not everyone may know who’s doing what. Be clear what you’re inviting them to, what they will do, and the part they will play. Blurred lines may be avoided and everyone understands the situation.
Sensitive in that, when going through a season of change handling conversations delicately is always wise. We need to be gentle and kind in how we communicate. We’re well served when we are aware and conscious of how others might feel and receive what we say.
If I had communicated to my friend in those ways perhaps things would have been different.
Since then, each person I’ve invited onto our core team I’ve done so face to face, clearly outlining what I mean, and given them time to pray about it, ask any questions for clarity, and come back to me with a decision at their own pace. Better to invite someone slowly who will fit, then someone rashly who won’t.
When establishing a Core Team…trust God’s sovereignty amidst disappointments
We continued our invitations and extended one to a couple who were part of our small group. We got along with them great and had known them for several years. They were both gifted, serving well, and were committed to our church. The invitation was received well, initially. My wife and I were excited for how their friendship in leadership would support us, but also the strength their contributions would bring to the congregation.
However, it wasn’t to be. Due to personal circumstances out of their control, they felt it wasn’t appropriate or the right time to commit themselves to this venture. Enter that sense of disappointment. We were excited; they were excited; we were dreaming of what the future could look like with them. Then the balloon pops. You’re back at square one. What I had built up in my mind came crashing down.
Surrounding that, a confident trust in God’s sovereignty can help you weather those early disappointments. Reminding myself that the Lord has an unbreakable plan and that what He wills won’t be messed up, provided a shield against attacks on my competence, “success” as a leader, and doubt over my calling. We just had to trust that He was in control and orchestrating how our team would eventually form, with who, and when.
There’s a wonderful sense of comfort and consolation to know that the purposes of God will come through. That He knows who you need and when. He knows what doors to open and which to close. All He asks is that we yield to Him and submit to his fatherly wisdom as His loved children.
More to come on this!