Let's just get this out of the way...Every team has dysfunction. If you're team is experiencing dysfunction, you are not alone. You are not broken. You are not unfixable. You are not failing. It is just a fact of human nature that when you put multiple personalities together, sooner or later you will experience discord and dysfunction. You can either learn to manage it. Or, you can let it destroy your team and your fruitful ministry.
Pastors, church staff members, and ministry leaders tend to lean toward Type-A personalities. They tend to score higher on extroversion and ego on personality inventories. Again, this is not a bad thing...it just is A thing. And, it seems to get worse the longer someone serves. They develop somewhat of a bravado and can come across as abrasive to some. I honestly can't remember a church staff I served on or a church that we have worked with that didn't have some level of discord and dysfunction. Any group dynamic will invariably encounter this.
So, what is a church leader to do about it?
The simple answer is, learn to lead through it. The most frequent underlying cause of disunity on a church staff or within a leadership team is lack of shared vision and purpose. Again, those who have been in leadership positions for a while tend to view certain ministries as "theirs." They tend to view certain volunteers and certain functions as "theirs." What you ultimately end up with is siloed ministries functioning individually. When this happens, everyone is fighting for funding for "their ministry." They are fighting for equal promotion of "their ministry." And, they are fighting for volunteers in a limited supply for "their ministry." Their task becomes about accomplishing only the goal of "their ministry," and they lose sight of the larger picture. They lose sight of how their ministry area fits into the overall vision for the church.
It is vital that pastors and leaders constantly hold the church's vision, purpose, and mission before the entire staff and leadership team. Talk about it. Preach about it. Lead Bible studies about it. Discuss it at staff meetings. Ask others to talk about it and to share it. If every single person on your staff or leadership team can't recite your church's vision word for word and immediately describe how their ministry area supports that vision, you don't have a true vision. If every member of your church can't recite your church's vision and articulate how their attendance / service / gifts / graces / participation fit into that vision, then you don't have a true vision. Every single person who interacts at any level with your church should know your vision and understand what they are doing to accomplish that vision.
If you just read that last paragraph and said, "yeah, my church does that," then you are in good shape. Any discord, disharmony, or dysfunction on your team can be easily managed by revisiting your vision and having a discussion about how each person fits into the accomplishment of that vision. Ask yourself, "does this vision truly reflect who we are as a church? Does this vision reflect who we are called TO BE as a church? How can we better communicate to EVERYONE the vision of the church?"
If you read that paragraph and though, "absolutely none of that applies to my church and my staff," then you've got some work to do before you can effectively address the dysfunction on your team. You need to go through a very intentional strategic development process and define the vision of the church. A church with no vision cannot see where it is going. This must be the vision for the CHURCH, not just the vision for the PASTOR. This process MUST involve your staff and key church leaders (think elders, deacons, lay leaders, influencers).
Fortunately, our team of leadership experts can walk you through a carefully-designed custom-tailored process. We can help you develop a Strategic Plan, define the Vision and Mission of the church, and align all of your ministries and staff behind that new vision.
"Without vision. you have no direction. Without direction, you have no purpose." - Steve Gilliland