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9 Ways Pastors Can Encourage Their Teams

LenoGarthToday’s guest post is a treat from Dr. Garth Leno. Garth is the lead pastor of the Heritage Park Alliance Church in Windsor, Ontario, where he has been serving since 2003.  A graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Bethel Theological Seminary, Garth loves to preach, cast vision, and develop leaders for the sake of the kingdom.

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Recently I asked the team I work with to tell me what encourages them most as we live and work together serving the local church. What follows is a collaborative effort with my team of pastors and directors of ministry. I challenge you to take this list and allow God’s Spirit to speak to you about what could change in your ministry venue.

We have discovered 9 ways that our team receives encouragement:

encouragement1. Be generous in recognizing contributions to the team.

When someone on your team makes a slam dunk, then celebrate it together as a team. Acknowledge them when your team is together. Give a shout-out at staff meeting. Write an encouragement card. Give her a $5 Tim Horton’s card (Canada, eh!) or Starbucks.

2. Hang out with your team.

No agenda whatsoever. Just enjoy each other’s company. Have fun together. Ask families over for dinner. Maja, one of our administrative assistants, says, “Being able to laugh and tell jokes around each other is encouraging, because we can be ourselves.”

3. Give hand-written notes of encouragement.

“I am motivated when encouraging notes are left on my desk. I am not a big ‘public acknowledgement’ person. I like personal notes better,” Maja added.

4. Trust members of your team with important stuff.

When you give significant projects to a member of your team, with sufficient information and authority, then trust them to carry the ball. It helps them strive for excellence knowing that the stakes are high. Celebrate the win when it’s all over!

5. Ask about stuff that is going on outside of work.

Encourage and support your colleagues to pursue their dreams for ministry inside and outside the church. And ask about their lives, their dreams, their families, their hobbies outside of work.

6. Affirm God’s call in their lives.

Our director of worship and creative arts tells me she is inspired to strive for excellence by knowing that it’s what God has called her to do. “It’s not about man, or job descriptions, goals, or anything of the like! It’s merely knowing by experience that God is a God of excellence and He desires excellence from us.” Affirming God’s call and God’s anointing in the life of staff members will produce great results and encourage them to do their best for God’s glory!

7. If you can make a decision with your team, then make it with your team.

Cindy listed “collaboration and group decision making” at the top of what she values in a work environment.

8. Nurture flexibility with accountability.

Staff members are encouraged when they know you can be flexible with schedules, meetings, time away from the office, vacation time, etc. But it must be flexibility with genuine accountability in order for the team to run on all 8 cylinders. One without the other makes an unhappy workplace.

9. Practice taking risks with your team.

Baby-boomer leaders need to learn how to take risks with their younger, gifted, millennial counterparts. We must give them room and encourage them to think outside the box, give them permission to try new things, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.
And a few don’ts to follow:

  • Don’t micromanage. 
    • Nuff said. Leaders hate to be micromanaged. Passionately hate it.
  • Don’t shift the blame.
    • If you blow it, own the mistake. Don’t shift the blame to another team member or an administrative assistant.
  • Do not tolerate “the meeting after the meeting.”
    • The staff needs to talk openly about “stuff,” not behind closed doors.
  • Don’t “use” people to accomplish anything.
    • The people you work with are not stupid. If you use them to accomplish your dream, your goal, your objective, your target, your aspirations, it will flop. Guaranteed. Work with your team, not around them.


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.