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Your Pick, Captain: 3 Things To Look For When Building A Team

Your Pick, Captain: 3 Things To Look For When Building A Team


Remember gym class back in middle school? We had all the fun games—variations of baseball, dodgeball, parachutes, and those scooter things. Man, those were the days!

Remember when your class broke up into teams?

Were you the kid that got picked first, middle of the pack, or last? (Sorry if this one opened an old wound or undid any of the work you paid a therapist a lot of money to help you get over.)

Did you ever get to be the kid that got to pick the team?

What was your strategy? C’mon, you know you had a strategy. My strategy was to pick either the most skilled kid or the smartest kid—the one that everyone knows has the mad skills in this particular game. 

Funny thing about those old memories, many of our strategies for picking our team members haven’t changed that much. How you and I pick our staff or volunteer teams today is probably very similar to how we would pick a team back on the playground. And this idea of choosing your team as leaders in ministry is something that we need to talk about and explore a little more.

When I pick up my Bible and read about the early church, they were always in community. God’s

people were hanging out and doing life as well as ministry together. I’m sure in those days, their community was diverse and full of people who had different skills but who were all working together to try to accomplish the same goal (that goal often being surviving another day). Sounds familiar to what we deal with today—minus the survival part.

In ministry, we can fall under the temptation to think, “I’ve Got This! My skills, experience, and raw talent can get me through this.” You and I know all too well that this is the classic me, my, and I battle. This type of thinking and leading is rooted in our own ego, and it’s been something that we as humans have been dealing with since the creation of Adam and Eve.

I’m convinced we are meant to live in community with one another. I believe this is more than a “good idea,” it’s a Biblical mandate.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 

If we are to take this verse at face value, then we are meant to do life together and constantly put our egos aside to minister along with and to other people—not just act as a lone ranger.


Have you fallen into the trap of trying to go it alone, leaning on your skills, experience, and raw talent to survive and advance to another day in ministry? If not, how intentional are you being when it comes to building a team and selecting your team members?

Take a good look at the team of people around you. You can define “team” however you would like – staff, volunteers, interns, parents, or Oompa Loompas. What is everyone’s personality, work style, giftings, talents, or values? What drives them?

Oh dear, too many questions—I get it.

Just like in gym class or the playground, you get to select your team members. You get to choose the people who will surround you and the ministry you are leading. This means that you need to come up with a winning strategy for making that selection. If you are trying to build a team, or needing to build out your team, here’s an idea of what to look for in your next pick.

1. Look For People Who Complement You.

Take some time to do a personal inventory concerning what you are really good at and what you are really not that great at. Be honest about it. As you select your next team member, avoid looking for people who are skilled, gifted, or wired in that are the same ways as you. Building a team full of “you clones” will only skew your perspective, make your ministry one-sided, and ultimately cause disfunction. Are you more administrative? Then find someone who is more creative. Are you more of an introvert? Go find yourself some extroverts to balance out your team.

2. Look For People Who Challenge You And Make You Better.

When we are faced with a challenge, we are given an opportunity to grow! When you are surrounded by people who will challenge you personally and professionally, you will only grow as a leader. When you are growing, then your team will grow, which translates into your ministry growing.

3. Look For People Of Integrity Who You Can Trust.

Teams are built on trust. When someone says they are going to do something, you need to be able to trust them to do exactly what they said, when they said, and how they said. Any team sport requires a high level of trust. You can’t win the Super Bowl, World Series, or the Stanley Cup on your own (Let’s

Go Pens! Sorry, I have to show my Pittsburg Penguins some love whenever I get the chance). My point is that no professional athlete can win a championship on their own. Even golfers have a team of trusted members who contribute to the win. Ministry is no different. If you are trying to do it all by yourself, you are in for a lot of frustration and what could have been. You need to invite others into the ministry and trust some trustworthy people with carrying some of the load. Where are you at with trusting others and being trustworthy? It starts with you as the leader. Model it!


Here is a bonus thought that is worth its weight in gold, especially as it relates to middle school ministry. Find a “mom” figure who you can filter things through and run ideas past—someone who will be honest and tell you when your “amazing idea” is over the line. As youth workers, our creativity can get the better of our filters at times. There is no one better than a youth pastor to come up with some of the grossest, nastiest, and most brilliant of ideas. Having a go-to “mom” allows you a “mom filter” that can save you the headache and hours of phone calls or email responses apologizing for crossing a line that you didn’t even consider. Trust me; you’ll be glad to have a “mom filter” as part of your team!


Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:

  • What do you feel are the most important things to consider when building a ministry team?
  • How do you handle someone on your team that is a bad fit or who was a bad pick on your part?
  • What are some tips that you would add to building a team of people to make your ministry better?

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