By Kathryn Dilworth, Camp Director, Deer Run Camps & Retreats
Together, we are functioning well in accomplishing our mission. Can you say that? Can your team do better?
Cohesion is defined as “the action or fact of forming a united whole.” And teamwork is defined as “the combined action of a group of people especially when effective and efficient.” Is your team or group united? Being as effective as they can be? Working efficiently? How is communication? Is each person’s understanding of his or her role and responsibilities clear?
Understanding how to operate on a team, and as a team, is a very important skill we are almost all required to have to excel in whatever job or role we have. However, learning how to actually work with others on a team is not something everyone does well or even comes naturally sometimes. In the ministry world, team operations and team leadership are vital roles. Nothing in the ministry world operates apart from a team or a holistic team approach. This is most likely the case because we were created for community, and the church operates as a body—many moving parts all working together. Each part of the body is vital for the others to function at their best. And if one body part tries to function as a different body part, the body will not work the way it should. 1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Our goal in ministry—no matter what type of organization, team or group—is to honor and glorify our Creator and to share the Good News with other people so they can know Him as their personal Savior. To fulfill the Great Commission that he called us to in Matthew 28:19-20 we have to work well as a body, as a team.
Instilling team cohesiveness can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Many seminars, videos, books, and other helpful resources can provide a team with good tips on how to unite together. However, one of the most effective ways to connect members of a team is through experiential learning, and that can best be accomplished on a ropes course through various games and elements.
Low ropes are basically “team games” that propose a problem and requires a solution which many times seems simple, but must have some component of teamwork, surrender or reverse thinking. They are not designed to be as simple as, “Here are three sticks and a tarp, now build a teepee.” Instead they challenge the participants to think of solutions outside the “obvious.”
Sometimes a team will spend a long amount of time at one element or challenge, and may or may not be able to complete it. Once the element has either been successfully completed, or unsuccessfully abandoned, trained facilitators debrief the scenario and what took place. While the purpose was to find a solution to a problem, or to complete a task, each element has an underlying lesson or purpose. Facilitators take the team in-depth—asking questions to really dig into what they experienced throughout the course of the element. The participants are frequently enlightened when they realize what the purpose of the element truly was. Oftentimes there are a few bumps along the way (frustrations, failures, etc.) but those pieces are really what drive home the purpose of each element and the overall lesson of teamwork. They are what bring about cohesiveness. Members of the team walk away with valuable, applicable knowledge about teamwork through their experience together.
Some people tend to think their way is the best way or the only way. The experiential learning during a ropes course teaches about being part of the team, and many times letting go of being a leader and becoming a follower. We are called Christ Followers, His chosen people, and we should operate with that in mind. Each person has something to bring to the team, to the work, to the mission. Each part of the “body” must be able to listen well, communicate well and compile ideas to accomplish the goal(s) in whatever work, ministry or mission team they are a part of. Experiential team building on a ropes course is by far the best way to gain strides in your team’s cohesiveness and teamwork and to be united, effective, and efficient.
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.