Building Unity Through Sticky Teams

Just finished reading a great book by Larry Osborne on my Kindle. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page was one of the most practical books for church leadership that I have read. I was constantly highlighting and taking notes as I read. This is not a deep theological treatment of the roles of elders, pastors, and deacons, but instead it is focuses on the practical side of how you work together and build unity to advance the Kingdom.

I liked it so much, that I have ordered copies for everyone on our elder board at Cornerstone so we can work through it together. In a new and growing church, you encounter so many issues that you don’t foresee happening. This book shares a lot of wisdom about what their church learned as they grew. Unfortunately, I have already learned many of the book’s lessons the hard way. But this book has helped me to think strategically about the future of our church and my role as the Pastor. You simply have to learn how to adapt and change leadership style and roles as your church grows if you want to maintain unity.

I think the best way to share what I learned is to share some of my highlights. (This is one of the great features of the Kindle, you can just cut and paste your notes and highlights from the Kindle website.)

  • my deep conviction that the health and long-term effectiveness of any ministry begins with the health and unity of its primary leadership teams.
  • There are three component of a healthy and unified team – Doctrinal unity, Respect and friendship, and Philosophical unity
  • Finally, I’d had enough. I told the board that as far as I was concerned, the “theys” no longer existed. I’d happily listen to comments and critiques from people with real names and faces. But nebulous theys who didn’t want their identity known and hypothetical theys we couldn’t identify would no longer have any sway.
  • Rather than trying to figure out what everybody wants them to do, leadership teams have only one question: what does God want us to do?
  • Just because people are spiritually mature doesn’t mean they’ll work well together.
  • Wise pastors and leadership teams know an important paradox of leadership: church harmony is inversely related to the amount of time spent oiling squeaky wheels.
  • Overly restrictive constitutions and bylaws reveal a profound lack of trust. It’s as if those who write them trust God’s ability to lead in their own life but not his ability to lead in the life of the next group of leaders. So to keep future leaders from going astray, they put in all kinds of detailed regulations and procedures that make sense today but that will make no sense tomorrow.
  • But one thing is certain. Everyone needs to agree on the pastor’s role. Otherwise, as we’ve already seen, it won’t be long until dysfunction and conflict break out.
  • That’s why I’ve committed myself to follow three key guidelines. (1) Present first drafts, not final proposals  (2) Keep no secrets from the board  (3) Follow the board’s advice These guidelines ensure that my leadership has boundaries and help keep me accountable. They also go a long way toward allaying the fears of those who are suspicious of strong leadership.
  • Research has consistently shown that strong pastoral leadership is a key ingredient in virtually every healthy and growing church. But this leadership can’t be demanded or taken. It has to be granted.
  • The primary role of the board will always be the same: to determine God’s will and then see that it’s carried out.
  • The strongest indicators that it’s time to consider changing the primary role of the board are (1) a marked increase in conflict and frustration while making decisions and (2) meetings that drag on forever.
  • Previously, whenever I taught or instructed our leaders, I aimed at their hearts. Most everything was of a devotional nature. But now I aimed at their role. Armed with the new goal of equipping our board members for their specific job as church leaders, I began to teach and convey the leadership principles others had poured into me.
  • But even when I’m absolutely convinced that something is God’s will, I check one more thing: is this God’s timing? I’ve learned that God’s will has a what and a when. The question of timing is often answered during the testing-the-waters stage.

This is just a small sampling of what you’ll find in the book. I read it in two days because I simply couldn’t put it down.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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1 Response

  1. May 27, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by churchsoundguy, Mike Morris. Mike Morris said: New blog post: Building Unity Through Sticky Teams […]

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