2 Elements in the Formula of Team Success

Jesus led the most remarkable ministry in history. Jesus had a laser focused vision and was able to transfer it to His team in such a way that even though His personal ministry lasted only three years and His small team consisted of unqualified men, over 2000 years later, about one third of the world’s population identifies with Him.

When I look at the life of Jesus and the team that He built while He was on earth, two main things grab my attention that I think we can apply as we handcraft the teams we influence.


When Jesus called His disciples, there was nothing special about them. The majority of these men were common laborers, one was even a tax collector- seen as a traitor to his own people. While the gospel’s purpose is to highlight the ministry of Jesus, along the way we catch glimpses of the disciples in their blunders: doubting, missing the point, and saying things without thinking. Peter seems to consistently stand out as the one who gets it wrong about 95% of the time, and instead of Jesus focusing on his weaknesses, He speaks to Peter’s potential. In Matthew 16, when Jesus asks the disciples who people say He is, Peter is the one who declares Jesus as the Messiah. It is an “ah-ha” moment that Jesus zeroes in on:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt. 16:18)

In the midst of all of Peter’s mistakes, Jesus chooses to see what Peter is capable of becoming and calls him by that name- Peter- meaning rock. Throughout the gospels we see an unstable man who can’t seem to control what he says, but to Jesus, he is a rock.

Taking the time to view people in light of their potential instead of their present struggles is the starting point for letting them see your heart behind the vision. Encouraging people according to their potential can help them realize things about themselves they never knew were there, have the courage to trust God because someone believes in them, and can communicate their value when they may feel defeated. You have the ability to not only encourage someone in their role, but in their identity as a child of God. When you have people on your team who are developing spiritually and trusting God to help them overcome personal hurdles, it becomes a catalyst to create a dynamic team full of people anticipating the work of the Lord in and around them. As the leader, you are in the position to be this catalyst.


Jesus could have chosen anyone for His team, but instead of scanning resumes for religious qualifications, education, or pedigree, He looked for one thing- willingness. His core group was made up of common people who were willing to do the very uncommon thing of following Jesus no matter the cost. When He said “Follow me,” they left what they were doing and did just that. They followed Jesus for three years while He was on earth and then for the rest of their lives as they laid the foundation of the Church. I have heard one of my closest friends in ministry say he would rather

“hire someone who doesn’t have the qualifications, but has a willing attitude because they have a teachable spirit that will lead to qualification.”

When your central vision is in line with Jesus, and you have a team who is willing to do whatever it takes to make that vision happen, it opens up a door for God to move in incredible ways.

Just as willingness increases your ministry reach, entitlement can kill the course of your ministry. In all the synoptic gospels, we see the story of a rich young man asking Jesus how to get to heaven. He approaches Jesus with an air of confidence because he feels that he has kept the law perfectly his whole life. But Jesus knows that this young man’s wealth is the one thing that stands in his way. When Jesus says to him:

go and sell all you possess and give to the poor…and come, follow Me,”  (Mark 10:21)

the rich young man walks away missing out on the greatest offer of his life because he is unwilling to do what Jesus asks. An attitude of entitlement cannot thrive alongside of a vision that is centered on Jesus.

But before you have a willing team, you must be a willing leader. Jesus set the ultimate example of willingness.

Philippians 2:6-8 says,

[Jesus] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Jesus was the leader who laid it all down for us. He was willing to live in complete submission to the Father so salvation could be possible. And He asks that we do the same:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24).

It all stems from willingness and it must start with you.


 1. Share the Formula For Team Success with someone on your team. (Potential + Willingness = Endless Possibilities) and discuss how you could use this formula as a leadership tool in your ministry.

2. Be willing to write 5 thank you notes to people in your ministry who have either displayed willingness or have potential in an area that you have noticed. (Remember that what gets recognized gets repeated!)

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Chris Rivers

Chris Rivers

Over the last eight years, Chris has worked with ministry leaders to provide solutions to the challenge of vision transfer in the areas of finance, process, and leadership development. In 2008, he partnered with a startup called SecureGive. SecureGive was the nation's first giving kiosk designed to help churches empower their people who wanted to give but did not carry cash or a checkbook. Chris then joined a new division of Shelby Systems called ArenaChMS, where he collaborated with church staff of various ministry departments to create customized solutions for their ministry needs. In 2010, Chris joined the staff at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., to help them rethink church technology. During his time at NewSpring Church, Chris created a staff development program that would transition new staff into ministry with clarity. Within 18 months of launching staff development, NewSpring hired 147 additional staff members, which nearly doubled the staff’s size. Increasingly pastors were asking him for ideas about better strategizing their visions, which led Chris to create CultureBus, an online training resource that gives ministry leaders practical ways to transfer vision to their teams. Chris lives in Anderson, S.C, with his wife, Rachel, and their three children, Riley, Finn, and Blythe. You can follow Chris on his blog at culturebus.cc.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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