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Reflections on Leading a GRIP Team Process

Introducing Discerning Direction Together

5 Reasons to Attend Set in Motion

Dissecting the Dotted Diamond

Resilience in Ministry

The Allure of Structure

The Allure of Structure

I to We changes things 

Moving from I to We is an organic journey.  It grows and changes as we add new members into our community and as we appropriately release others to their God-designed direction.  And change causes uncertainty.  Change causes disruption. It causes the questioning of purpose, of direction, and of “what is not changing”?  As coaches and leaders of teams, we don’t need to shy away from the challenges of ongoing change, rather we must recreate our structures, our processes, and our shared commitments to align with these rapid change realities.   

So, often we find that in times of uncertainty, people rely on false constructs to create assurances of what cannot be assured.  Examples: “I won’t step out of my current role because I need the security of a salary or insurance…” only to be laid off.  Or perhaps “If we could rewrite my job description, I would feel better about my current role…” only to have the tasks change as a team member leaves.   I’ve recently watched a large organization announce a massive reorganization.  The reason they are re-organizing is to reduce cost.  A common reason, and often sadly a necessary one.  The structure, however, should be a by-product of evaluation into how we most effectively can fulfill our God-given direction together.  If we start with structure, we undermine the shared vision and the people that God has brought to us. 

I am a firm believer that structure is extremely important.  It is often the accelerant for action when properly aligned with the teams’ goals and actions.  It becomes the roadway for important processes, the support for growth and creativity, and the consistency for needed support functions.  It can provide clarity and can serve as guardrails to protect from unforeseen challenges.  However, in times of uncertainty, structure is not the starting point for evaluation. 

When to evaluate? 

Structure should never determine how we operate.  It too easily becomes a limitation of creativity.  And ultimately it cannot be the anchor of any organization or team.  That is Christ alone.  So, from an “I to We” lens, the team must be settled in their Abiding together.  Functionally, they must be loving Jesus together, and Thriving to share their collective strength with each other and those they are serving.  And they must be regularly Discerning together where the Holy Spirit is leading them.  Foundational structure creates organizational anchors to support these three functions.   

For teams finding themselves embarking on the I to We journey where these are new practices, and where organizational design has traditionally be done by demographic group (Youth Ministry, Seniors Ministry, Men’s / Women’s) or stated standard roles (Executive Pastor, Community Pastor, Discipleship), I to We may force a different conversation.  It may cause questions like, “Who has the Lord brought to our team?” and “Who are the people we feel drawn to reach through our ministry?”  “If we were to restart the organization today, how would we create teams to serve our people?” These questions facilitate a reorientation of our focus. 

And once these questions are settled, it probably is still too soon to change. 

When is it too soon to change? 

When we lead with a reorganization of roles and personnel, we are reinforcing the team or organization is reliant upon job descriptions and hierarchy to complete the tasks it sees as important.  In times of transition and uncertainty, we have opportunities to try new things and to functionally learn- and fail- quickly as an organization.  We can experiment, pilot, and beta-test new ways of living into God’s vision for our team.   

Practically speaking, when phrases like “if we just had greater clarity on the structure, I would feel better.” should be red-flags in time of transition.  It should cause us to appropriately probe into the statements to determine their purpose.  Often times we will find one of three things behind demands for structure: 

  • Job security – inability to understand the value they contribute without the right job title 
  • Need for authority figures to make decisions – insecurity in collaborative governance models 
  • Longing to return to ‘what has been’ 

If you ask questions, and the results lead you to a place where the reasons are for team collaboration, team connection, and team results, you know that these issues have subsided. 

What is the right process? 

Remember 4 steps: 

  1. Discern the Vision – where are we headed? 
  1. Understand the People – who has the Lord brought to us? 
  1. Define the Strategy – how can we accomplish our vision? 
  1. Build the Structure – how can we stay connected to complete the work?

Master’s programs and doctorate dissertations clutter academic institutes around the world with the ‘right’ way to approach all of these.  The word that will transform this process should be added to the end of each statement: together.  When we discern vision together, it is collaboratively owned and it is much easier for individuals to see themselves meaningfully contributing.  When we understand the people together, we have to ask questions, observe, reflect, and learn together.  We begin to think creatively about how we fit together and where we have strengths, passions, and needs.  Defining the strategy together requires that we take the first two steps and lace in the people we are called to.  It requires us to move away from “we have to do this,” and instead leads us to a place of “Tom, you care deeply about that- who else can work with Tom on that project?”  And when we build the structure together, we allow individuals to contribute ideas for taskforces, teams, and projects where they can work interdependently with a variety of people.  When we begin to hear “my ministry” or “my team” then we realize we have important work to do still.  Inclusive “we” and “our” pronouns drive our review of how we can get the work done most effectively. 

Why does it matter in Body Life? 

Structure reinforces and imbeds our values into the culture.  People can look at an organizational chart and deduct some of the values of your team.  So, if our desire is to live into “We,” how does our structure reflect that?  If we believe that we fit together by God’s design and we believe we are all called to fulfill the Great Commission together, how would I know that by the way we have setup our processes, our roles, and our rewards systems.  Does our structure reflect the evolving and changing nature of teams, and do we together own that structures will often change and morph.  Are we building structures that allow us to equip and release others over leading?  Are we supporting and releasing in such a way that people are drawn into our community?   

Moving from I to We is a messy journey of complex relationships where we learn, make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, live transparently, and love each other deeply as Christ loves us.  No structure can solve the problem of our culture.  Instead, we must learn to live in the softness of the situations, with the commitment to the anchors of community, and provide the right structure to not hinder the movement of the Holy Spirit among us.   

For more information about how your team can journey from I to We, please feel free to contact us.  We love thinking with you about how your team or organization can operate in a way that draws people into the Body of Christ – simply by moving from I to We.   

To hear more about The Allure of Structure, see the GB Coaches Cafe on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6OMz8GBlMM
or listen to the Podcast at  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1885604/share 

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