In this episode of The Church Planting Podcast, Rob Wegner talks to Greg about practical ways to build a high-functioning team that can help shape the culture and future of a new church.

Rob Wegner

Rob Wegner served as a teaching pastor at Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana, for 21 years, and five years at Westside Family Church in Kansas City, overseeing microchurch planting, internationally and locally. Currently he is planting the Kansas City Underground, a decentralized network of reproducing disciples, micro-churches and collective congregations of those micro-churches. The forty year vision is 21,000 microchurches connecting with training Hubs throughout the city, saturating Kansas City with the Gospel. Rob also serves on the leadership team of NewThing, helping churches form networks to pursue the Mission of Jesus together. Rob is also an author. His latest books are Find Your Place: Discovering Your Calling Through Your Gifts, Passions, and Story (Zondervan),which he cowrote with Brian Phipps and last year’s theme book for Exponential 2019, Made For More, which he cowrote with Todd Wilson.

Building A High Functioning Team As a Success Factor

  • A high-functioning team is a team that has clear goals and the collective ability and resources to accomplish them.
  • Culture is what people do when no one is telling you what to do. Effective planters create a culture of high-functioning teams that live and work from a small set of core values.
  • Apart from God’s favor, the size and quality of the team that starts a church determines that church’s future.

The Importance of Team Building

The primary metaphor the Bible uses about the church is that of a body – there is a non-negotiable, profoundly essential understanding of the church as a team – as an integrated, connected, working-as-one system of people who each have discovered their unique purpose but understand that they are profoundly interconnected with others.


How Do You Do It?

We have a training hub which consists of seven teams which equip the micro-churches. It’s a service platform that supports the assessment, equipping, launching, coaching, and networking of all the micro-churches in the city – like a mini-Stadia!


Why Is Assessment Critical?

If your team is going to be operational, everyone on the team has to understand their gifts, natural abilities, spiritual gifts, and passions. We take them through a calling/discovery process to help them find out where they are and where to go by triangulating their gifts, passion, and story.
EVERY team member goes through this process. The training hub will take the micro-church leaders through the process, and those church leaders will take their team through it. It definitely takes a lot of energy!
Each person comes out at the end with a coaching plan – they know where their weaknesses are so they can know who to look for to fill out their team.


Up-Front Energy

You can’t force things to happen – you need the Spirit of God to raise people up. But we need our leaders to be thinking about the full spectrum, appreciating it, and realizing they need it on their teams.
(GN) So in the long haul, the up-front energy builds systems, people, and teams that will make lots of kingdom impact.


Warning Signs That A Team Might Go Rogue

When we dug down into how to execute our shared vision, we couldn’t agree. There were fundamental differences in our strategy, and we wasted years on debate, trying to get our differing strategies to ‘win’. It’s important to take the time to drill down deep to ensure you aren’t creating competing visions.
Also, there was some deep soul work that needed to be done that dealt with our own mixed motives that went back to wounds that were deep in our stories and that we were trying to heal through the work we were doing rather than through the Gospel. If you aren’t doing the deep soul work and Gospel-ing yourself, and not being transparent about that with your time, it’s a recipe for disaster. Egos start colliding, and identities become attached to the work you’re doing, so a disagreement feels like an existential threat. Sometimes the way we do the work of the Lord destroys the work of the Lord in us.


Priorities for Building Great Teams

Tend to your own soul. Nouwen says any leader who isn’t seeking their fullness in solitude with Jesus will become a cannibal, making their ‘sheep’ fulfill their soul hunger. A high percentage of pastors are clinically narcissists! So do the soul work. Get a good counselor, find a spiritual director, figure out your rhythms. If you aren’t abiding in Jesus – if he’s not your everything – you’re going to end up ruining yourself and ruining others.
Have absolute clarity on your vision and your mission. It shouldn’t be a purely corporate approach, but Jesus is very clear about his vision and mission. What is the spirit of God saying to your community? Describe it specifically and vividly in 30 seconds or less.
(GN) The values of the organization are also so important as parameters for how we make decisions.
Yes. Our defining moments have all been about, Will we be faithful to our values or not?
Help all your team members become self-aware.
Your team needs systems – for communication, planning, data tracking, evaluating data, ongoing equipping. They need to be simple and reproducible.
(GN) Making the DNA of multiplication must be baked into every team in your church.
Exactly. We want everything we are doing to be multiplied, scalable, and reproducible. As we create the hub, we already know we’ll need more of them.


Final Thoughts on Building High-Functioning Teams

Deconstruct the myth that you as the planter are the professional hero with all the answers, all the right next steps, always the vision caster, the teacher, the answer man/woman. There is a long history in the prevailing model of that myth, and people expect it. Take a battle axe to that myth and say from day one, “This is all about teams.” The job is to empower people.

Additional Resources

To assess your team members by giftedness and calling

Find Your Place: Locating Your Calling Through Your Gifts, Passion, and Story

The Church Implementation Kit for Find Your Place (A guide to implementing this assessment and calling discovery process in your church.)

The Free Assessment for giftedness and calling.


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