What is the TEAM Philosophy of Ministry?

Historically, churches have place supreme emphasis on their doctrinal statement, thinking a clear statement of a church’s doctrine would pave the way to successful ministry (i.e., knowledge guaranteed function). However, today’s churches are realizing that effective results grow out of clearly stated goals, and goals are accomplished only when a clearly stated strategy of ministry is followed. This strategy of ministry, called a statement of ministry, must be based on a sound philosophy which grows out of Scripture and is consistent with biblical standards and objectives.

What is the TEAM Philosophy of Ministry?

The TEAM Philosophy of Ministry is based on upon using people where they are usable. As such, it encourages everyone to use their own God-given gifts, thereby maximizing their greatest strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. It equips Christians to work together as a team through the local congregation.

A TEAM ministry church is led by the “Ephesians 4 Pastor” (read Ephesians 4:11-16) who is the steward of the gifts, talents, and abilities of those entrusted to his care. As stated in Ephesians 4, his responsibility is to lead his people to do the work of ministry, not to do all the work of ministry for them.

Simply stated, the TEAM philosophy of ministry says: God has given every member of the church a spiritual gift thereby equipping and calling them to perform the function of that gift. Therefore, the church becomes more effective and efficient when leaders utilize laity in their proper roles to do the work of the ministry.

What is a team?

The term TEAM, “people working together for the benefit of the whole,” has several connotations in the TEAM philosophy of ministry.

  1. Christians teamed with Christians. All the members of the local congregation work in cooperation with each other to carry out the responsibilities given to the church.
  2. Spiritual gifts teams with spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12 (1-31), Paul uses a three-way analogy indicating that the members of the body of Christ (the Church) are not only Christians but are also the various spiritual gifts possessed by those Christians. Plus, Ephesians 4:16 indicates that when gifts are fitted properly, both external (numerical) and internal (spiritual) growth will result.
  3. Laity teamed with leadership. TEAM ministry develops a partnership between clergy, staff, and laity by recognizing that each plays a different role in the local congregation.
  4. The congregation teamed with God. Based in 1 Corinthians 3:9 (“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”), the congregation carries out the role given to it while God fulfills the promises given to the church.
  5. Methods teamed with methods. TEAM ministry recognizes that many different methods used over the years are valid and have a place in most congregations. Most methods, although incomplete or representative of select groups, actually complement each other when used cooperatively.
  6. People teamed with methods. TEAM ministry acknowledges that of the many different methods for reaching people for Christ, some are more suitable for some people than others.

Striving for Balance

We probably recognize the greatest need is for balance today in our diets. We know that to be healthy, we must eat the proper foods as well as the proper proportions of food and should balance our diets with exercise. Furthermore, we realize that improper diets can create a multitude of health problems (for instance, a Vitamin D deficiency can result is a disease such as rickets or a Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy). The possibility of some physical problems may surprise us. An extremely overweight person can actually suffer from malnutrition!

The same is true in a congregation. Many times, congregations suffer from malnutrition even when they appear on the surface to be well nurtured. Years of research reveals that there are four basic areas every congregation must emphasize to continue to grow and minister to its people. This does not mean that other areas are not important, but that if we neglect one or more of these necessary areas the congregation will become malnourished. And the malnourished congregation, just like a malnourished person, will eventually die if the problem is not corrected.

The four central areas to balance for a healthy congregation are:

  1. Leadership is not dictatorship but influence. No organization will ever rise to be greater than its leadership. The size of every congregation is regulated by the leadership capacity of its pastor. Leadership builds a congregation and makes it grow numerically while ministry meets the physical and spiritual needs of the people, therefore maintaining growth.
  2. Bonding is assimilating new members into the existing congregation and getting them to tick to the congregation. Bonding requires developing relationships and providing a discipleship program for new Christians and an orientation program for new members who come to your congregation by transfer. People should be bonded to Christ and His Church! It is not enough to simply lead people to Christ. We must nurture them to become active members involved in the ministry, fellowship, education, worship, and stewardship of the local congregation.
  3. Lay Involvement. Spiritual gifts are the tools for doing the work of the ministry. If we neglect the discovery and use of these tools, members will never perform as God intended. When members do not use their gifts, we find an overworked staff, a burned-out pastor, and an ineffective congregation, and – worse of all – we find an unfulfilled laity. A team can be effective only when it is balanced through each member using his or her own gift.
  4. Every congregation should be actively involved in evangelism. A church that does not evangelize is not only ignoring the Great Commission, it will eventually die from old age. Once a congregation loses its burden to reach out to its community with the Gospel it is left to ministry only to itself and will become self-centered. Not only must every congregation have a vision for evangelism, it must also recognize two major facts affecting its workforce:
    1. Every congregation is made up of two kinds of people, those with the gift of evangelism and those without the gift of evangelism. It is of utmost importance that any evangelistic methodology recognizes and incorporates both groups accordingly.
    2. Statistics prove that the most effective evangelistic outreach is through existing relationships of its members, because those with whom they have those relationships are more receptive to the church than strangers are.

Only when we combine these two factors will we be able to develop an outreach program that involves the greatest number of Christians and ultimately influences the greatest amount of lost people.

How they work together.

This simple diagram shows how these four basics relate to and complement each other when addressed in the proper perspective.

Leadership is in the center because everything revolves around and is controlled by leadership

Bonding is where all new members start. If they are not bonded to the local congregation as well as Christ, they will not stay. As a person matures in Christ, his or her next obvious step is involvement.

Involvement is what separates Christianity from religion. At this level, people are willing to invest their lives in the lives of others. Involvement provides the expression of our Spiritual Gifts.

Evangelism is the fourth, but actually not last, area. Effective evangelism starts taking place for many Christians at the beginning of their own bonding and continues through involvement, with some people (those with the gift) maintaining evangelism as the dominant area of their involvement. The process of effective evangelism continues and takes us back to where we started as it brings more people who need to be bonded to the church and to Christ.

(Stay tuned…more to come!)