"I appeal to you, that all of you agree, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."

- The Apostle Paul, Letter to the Corinthians

With the unpredictable assaults and attacks on our faith-based organizations, many congregations have decided to establish safety plans and teams. It is vitally important to understand how to deal with Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team when building your team because you will encounter each and must overcome each to build a model Church Safety Ministry team.

Pastors, church elders, and administrators recognize, as does Lencioni, that teamwork requires some sacrifice up front; people who work as a team have to put the collective needs of the group ahead of their interests.

To create a healthy and well-functioning church safety ministry, we must build a "servant-focused" team readily available to deal with any emergencies which arise. Medical-related emergencies are often the most frequent of these.

The absence or lack of trust is the first dysfunction all teams face. Trust is a team's critical foundation, just as it is essential for the success of any religious congregation.

To establish trust, everyone on the team must be vulnerable, open and accessible to learning, engaging, collaborating, training, exercising and serving.

Team members with "servant's hearts" understand what they are good at and and what they are not good at. Trusting in each other and their mission will guide them through mistakes or inappropriate thinking or behavior. There may be conflict, but the collective needs of the group will be put ahead of personal interests.

Without trust, the fear of conflict cannot be overcome.

Conflict is good when it comes to building a functioning, productive and resilient safety team. Conflict is necessary for practical problem solving and developing effective interpersonal relationships.

When we have team trust, conflict becomes nothing more than the expression of the passion we have for the pursuit of truth. Conflict when discussing congregational safety plans is inevitable. No team relationship is immune to debate, heated discussion, and disagreement. When appropriately managed, conflict serves as a catalyst for change and an opportunity for spiritual and relational growth.

Conflict helps us make the best possible team decisions. During conflict, we have the opportunity to voice our issues, concerns, and raise our questions and get them resolved. Without constructive debate, we encounter a lack of commitment.

Teams that don't engage in conflict don't ever commit to decisions made by the team. Without commitment, we "go along to get along." And we get nowhere.

When commitment exists, the team members realize what their responsibilities are to ensure the safety of their congregants.

Without commitment, we encounter the most common team dysfunction, the lack of accountability.

When teams trust one another and are committed, they are more willing to confront one another constructively about short-comings in their behaviors and the team's performance.

If people are not holding each other accountable, they will encounter the final dysfunction which is inattention to results.

Too often, team members pay more attention to their concerns and issues rather than team results. If we are to build a successful Church Safety Ministry we must:

n Choose team members with "servant's hearts" who trust one another.

n Engage in healthy, constructive debate and conflict.

n Commit to decisions of the team recognizing consensus is not always possible.

n Hold one another accountable with respect.

Only then can your Church Safety Ministry team provide responsible, efficient, discreet, reliable and trustworthy congregational safety.

Subscribe to our informational updates at www.churchsafetyministry.com and watch a free webinar on the application of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

L. Darryl Armstrong, Ph.D. is the principal at L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates LLC, a firm providing crisis communications and consulting training nationwide.

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