Staffing Your Associational Revitalization Team

By Scott Catoe

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says one of the critical pieces of leadership is getting the right people on the right seats of the bus. If you are thinking of building a revitalization team, you have determined you need a bus — but who will be on it?

Having the right people on the team is at least as important as having a team. Finding those people can seem intimidating. Additionally, it can be tempting to simply fill the team with whoever is willing, or to pick people who will bring name recognition. You certainly cannot force anyone to serve on the team, so finding willing people is important. Additionally, a few well-known pastors can have deep influence on a church’s willingness.

There are, however, more and deeper qualities that can help us find the right people for the team. Here are seven things you will need:

  1. Revitalizing pastor. If it is at all possible, having someone on the team who is an experienced replanter or revitalizer that will bring field experience to the team. This will help the process of revitalizing and reSTARTing churches be more than simply theoretical. Restarting is hard work on a level that is almost impossible to understand if you have not experienced it; a revitalizing pastor on the team helps build categories based on experience. Additionally, he can share his story of hope to churches that need hope. This alone is a powerful tool.
  2. Deep thinker. Someone who reads the books, considers the theories, compares them to Scripture, and helps others think deeply about a biblical theology of church revitalization and restarting is an incredible asset to the team. This is more than simply a “smart guy;” it’s a person who can communicate difficult truths in clear, simple, helpful ways.
  3. Prayer warrior. I believe this is the single most important person on the team. All ministry work is prayer work; this includes the work of this revitalization team. There needs to be a continued focus on praying, and there needs to be a person who can continually point the team back to the necessity of prayer. A faithful, understated, yet confident prayer warrior can make the greatest difference in the effectiveness of the team, because the effectiveness of the team is dependent on God’s work. God delights in moving and working through prayer.
  4. Strong leader. Someone who can conduct timely, efficient meetings, who can keep conversations on point, and who can confront strongly, yet lovingly, will be essential both for team conversations and for conversations with potential churches. A humble, yet well-defined, sense of identity and awareness of their specific giftings will pay dividends to the team.
  5. Encouraging motivator. The work of church revitalization and reSTARTing churches is discouraging. Every team needs a Barnabas. Look for the person who has knowledge and passion, yet loves to come alongside and encourage other men to work well and for God’s glory. Look for a person who can come into a tense conversation with a pastoral attitude. Seek out the person who has a tempered idealism that can balance out the sober realism that sets in over time.
  6. Healthy church pastor. Notice what I did not say here. I did not say “big church pastor.” I did not say “successful church pastor.” I said “healthy church pastor.” What churches in the association are models of unity, disciple-making, and community impact? The size of the church is completely irrelevant; the model of church health is relevant. Find a pastor who understands what a healthy church is, and is leading a church based on that definition.
  7. You. As a Director of Missions, you bring a perspective no one else on the team will have. This is extremely important! Your experience, energy, and wisdom will be, in many cases, the glue that binds the team together. Don’t undervalue your role on the team. At the same time, be sure you are a facilitator, a member of the team, and an asker of good questions. Don’t rule over the team; facilitate it. Aid in its work, and watch what God does through a solid, unified revitalization team!

Getting the right people on the right seats of the bus leads to contentment among team members, commitment to a unified purpose, and confidence in the team as they serve together from their individual strengths. This in no way means you need seven members of your team. You may have more or less, based on the size of your association and the availability of people to serve. You can have a person who may serve two, or even sometimes three, of these team roles. It is important, however, to try to find each of these characteristics to bring to the table.

Once the team is built, finding the right tools for the team to use is helpful. Once the team is built, building the toolbox becomes the next important step. What tools do you have access to? The next article will focus on available tools for revitalization teams.,

Published March 5, 2020

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Scott Catoe

Scott Catoe is a replanter serving at Slater Baptist Church, a mill village church in northern Greenville County in South Carolina. He draws on his wealth of experience as pastor and associational leader to guide the Three Rivers Baptist Association Revitalization Team in an effort to strengthen associational churches. He also serves DOMs and churches as a part-time ReSTART Strategist with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.