Church Multiplication
Missions Mobilization

The Secret Sauce

by Dave Manske, Director for Church Multiplication and Missions Mobilization

A marketing guru sent me an email alerting me of the dangers of “the secret sauce.” He warned that every company thinks it has a secret ingredient that makes it special, unique. When, in fact, any secret you might have is already known by your competitors. I deleted the email, thinking it was irrelevant.

Later, I was thinking about the concept of ministry teams. Some teams really do seem to have a “secret sauce” – that ingredient that fuels their synergy, that anoints their fruitful decision-making capacity and/or their relevancy in their community. Think about one of the ministry teams where you are a team member… is there a “secret sauce”?

Influential books on team building are plenteous. You probably have a dozen of them on your bookshelves. My church planting training utilized a myriad of them. If I’d narrow my list down to a few authors… I’d think of LeRoy Eims, Ajith Fernando, Patrick Lencioni and Bobby Clinton, just to name a few. Who would you identify as influential in formulating your concepts of team function and value?

Some ingredients for your secret sauce:

Time and Investment — listening to the Spirit

In the appendix of one of Eims' books he makes a comparison. He compares the 3 years Jesus spent investing in his leaders and translates it into today’s culture and time frame. The calculation is stunning… the time and investment equivalent is over 30 years! Teams and leaders are truly cultivated in the Christian realm.

Strategic placement — being placed by the Spirit

“In the book of Acts, and in the history of the church, some of the most brilliant people gave themselves to minister to the unreached,” writes Ajith Fernando in The Jesus Driven Ministry. He continues with a question, “Is this same thing happening today?” For me, this book was monumental. Ajith caused me to see people placement in ministry through different eyes. He challenges contemporary practice… and makes us think. “It seems very unusual for a brilliant preacher, who could be the senior pastor in a huge church, to be preaching each Sunday to a congregation only consisting of his family and three Muslim converts!”

Trust — modeling the trustworthiness of the Spirit

If you’ve perused any of Patrick Lencioni’s books…”trust” is a key component to a team…and you understand why! In your mind you have probably already cited “Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust”… or “invulnerability”. He writes in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – “Teams that lack trust waste inordinate amounts of time and energy managing their behaviors and interactions within the group…dread team meetings…reluctant to take risks…morale on distrusting teams is quite low…” Once again, it takes intentionality and time invested to be a healthy team. In his book The Advantage, Lencioni reveals that groups that prioritize trust are more stable. The old adage “relationships are built on shared experiences” rings true!

Inner life growth and Convergence — being sanctified by the Spirit

J. Robert Clinton has penned a masterfully written book entitled, The Making of a Leader. He proposes six stages in a leader’s development. Since your team is made up of potential leaders, the insights apply to more than “just” the leader. Clinton’s emphasis on the development of the inner life in Christ is key to the book. It sets the stage in our lives as we choose to obey God in the face of crises. Later in our lives, at that time of transition, we journey through what Clinton terms a “Convergence” involving gift-mix, experience, and a culmination of life choices. Convergence is part of the “secret sauce” in transitioning to the next generation of leadership in the edification of the local expression of Christ’s Church. This really highlights generous, God-formed character.

What would you name as ingredients in the secret sauce of an effective ministry team in your local church? “Secret Sauce” is present in effective church planting teams, missions teams and even in churches that have been established for many years.

Are you willing to take a “taste test” to see how your team is doing? Taste and see… try this assessment provided by Peter Scazzero as a starting point for discussion regarding the team’s culture and strength.

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