Church Planting: Building A Team (part one)

This is the eigth installment in a series based on my adventures in planting a church.  For more information on the series, or to see what else we have walked through, check out the original post.  My hope is to use this series to develop a resource for planters as they are thinking about diving in, or need to process their current situation… this resource is incomplete without your contribution (that is a subtle way of saying leave a comment).

Whether you are moving a team of people into your neighborhood to plant a church, or you are planting solo, the reality is that no one plants alone.  Today and Thursday I want to walk through what to look for as you build your team, both from a staff and core team (volunteer) perspective.  Let’s start with your staff team.  NOTE: For the purposes of this conversation the term staff refers to positions and roles that would be considered a pastoral position in an established church, not necessarily whether they are being paid.  I also am assuming that you have already dealt with issues of character, competence, and chemistry.

Desired Culture

A few weeks ago I shared the non-negotiables that I look for within the leadership culture of a church, and in the ministries that I lead.  I would highly suggest that before planting a church, and especially before bringing together a staff team, that you figure out just what your non-negotiables in regards to staff culture are, and write them down.  The process of defining this culture will help you be able to better clarify what you are looking for in a team… and will help you to weed out incredibly talented potential teammates that just don’t fit the culture that you are looking to build.

Dedication to Vision

The team you bring together needs to be dedicated to bringing the vision of your church to fruition.  While there are very few people who will disagree with this, the truth is that this is far easier said than done.  As the primary vision caster of the church the onus is on you to make sure that there is clarity and understanding of the church’s vision.  Shawn Lovejoy tells church planters that they need to be “mean about the vision“, and while that doesn’t mean that you are a jerk to people, it does mean that you are firm on what you are called to, and what you are not called to.

Dedication to Unity

One of the most important things you can develop on a team that you lead is a sense of unity.  Unity is defined as the state of being one; oneness While unity does not mean that your team never argues or disagrees with one another, it does mean that in public your team knows that they can trust one another to have their back.  The expectation needs to be that your team does not tolerate divisive conversations, gossip, or character assassinations on their team mates, and that they work to restore relationships as quickly as possible when there is division.

A divided staff on a church planting team will kill your church before it even gets started.

Different Gifts

As part of our coaching cohorts we have asked church leaders to engage in a series of assessments that help them to better understand how they are wired, what their strengths are, how they interact with people (and prefer to be interacted with), and even how they think.  These assessments are a great tool for helping leaders understand why they do what they do… but it is even more valuable for helping leaders understand who they need to be surrounding themselves with.  Whether you use a battery of assessments, go off of the multiperspectival framework (I’m happy I finally figure out how to spell it, don’t ask me to pronounce it), or some other method of discerning strengths and weaknesses; resist the temptation to hire people exactly like you.

You need people with different giftings surrounding you through this journey… they will frustrate you, irritate you, and make you want to rip your hair out… but they will also keep you out of jail, keep you from flaming out, and help you achieve your vision.

How have YOU built a staff team in YOUR church?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.