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  • Garth Leno

9 ways to encourage your team

WINDSOR, ONTARIO – When I visit churches in my new role, I like to ask staff and lay leaders alike what encourages them most about serving in their church. The result has been a journey of discovery! Allow me to put my learnings into language that may help other pastors and church planters.

1. Be generous in recognizing contributions to the team.

When someone on your team makes a slam dunk, celebrate it together as a team. Acknowledge them when your team is together. Give a shout-out at staff meeting. Write an encouragement card. Give her a $10 Starbucks card.

2. Hang out with your team.

No agenda whatsoever. Just enjoy each other’s company. Have fun together. Ask families over for dinner. One administrative assistant I spoke to said, “Being able to laugh and tell jokes around each other is encouraging, because we can be ourselves.”

3. Give hand-written notes of encouragement.

We are in the habit of writing notes to the people we work with across the state. I hear from pastors every week who tell me their card came at “just the right moment!” Not a coincidence, for sure. We pray over every card before we send it, and ask Jesus to lift people with it.

Pastor, it doesn’t take much time to write a heartfelt thank you to the selfless servants of God in your church, and they will love you for it.

4. Trust members of your team with important stuff.

When you give significant projects to a member of your team, with sufficient information and corresponding authority, then trust them to carry the ball. It helps them strive for excellence knowing that the stakes are high. Celebrate the win when it’s all over!

5. Ask about stuff that is going on outside of work.

Encourage and support your colleagues to pursue their dreams for ministry inside and outside the church. Ask also about their lives, their dreams, their families, their hobbies outside of work. As I spoke to someone last week, I could see and feel the pain as they spoke about a pending surgery. Ask questions that go beyond Sunday’s football game.

6. Affirm God’s call in their lives.

A director of worship and creative arts told me she is inspired to strive for excellence by knowing that it’s what God has called her to do. “It’s not about man, or job descriptions, goals, or anything of the like! It’s merely knowing by experience that God is a God of excellence, and He desires excellence from us.” Affirming God’s call and God’s anointing in the life of staff members (paid or unpaid) will produce great results and encourage them to do their best for God’s glory!

7. If you can make a decision with your team, then make it with your team.

One church staff member listed “collaboration and group decision making” at the top of what she values in a work environment. Hmmm. That’s challenging for me because I’m the type of leader who wants to set the course and then go for it. No collaboration for this cowboy! I’m learning that is not the most productive or helpful way to lead.

8. Nurture flexibility with accountability.

Leaders in our churches are encouraged when they know we can be flexible with schedules, meetings, time away from the office, vacation time, etc. But it must be flexibility with genuine accountability in order for the team to fire on all cylinders. One without the other makes an unhappy workplace.

9. Practice taking risks with your team.

Baby-boomer leaders need to learn how to take risks with their younger, gifted, millennial counterparts. We must give them room and encourage them to think outside the box, give them permission to try new things, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.

And a few don’ts to follow:

Don’t micromanage.

Nuff said. Leaders hate to be micromanaged. Passionately hate it.

Don’t shift the blame.

If you blow it, own the mistake. Don’t shift the blame to another team member or an administrative assistant.

Do not tolerate “the meeting after the meeting.”

The staff needs to talk openly about “stuff,” not behind closed doors.

Don’t “use” people to accomplish anything.

The people you work with are not stupid. If you use them to accomplish your dream, your goal, your objective, your target, your aspirations, it will flop. Guaranteed. Work with your team, not around them.



Dr. Garth Leno is a Planter/Pastor Care Specialist for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. He always works in a similar role with the Canadian National Baptist Convention. A graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Bethel Theological Seminary, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Garth loves to serve, lead, and preach for the sake of the kingdom.


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