Basic Tools 10: Building a Team to Help Me in Each of My Daily Missions

[Experience made clear the need to revise this format. The following pages are taken from the Workbook for WTMATM. You will find them both more user-friendly and more adequate to this important part of member mission. With your teammate, you have the chance to put evangelism inside of mission – where it belongs.]

God’s work is best done as a team effort. You need people working with you to achieve dramatic and lasting change. This becomes most challenging if you’re surrounded by people who don’t see themselves as religious or as people of faith. Further, in our society we tend to shy away from the topics of politics and religion. So, how do you get people to join with you in your mission? Recruiting teammates can be tough at times. You might feel awkward and that could prevent you from building your team. In this section, we’ll explore how you can approach people from all walks of life to join you in your missions. You will find it an expansion of questions 6, 7, and 8 on the worksheets for each daily mission field.

As you read, all of this may seem difficult. So, start with a prayer partner or group and branch out from there. It’s ideal to have a teammate in each of your daily mission fields but that may not be possible. The important thing is to have the support of a prayer partner or group. Remember that finding prayer partners – as well as finding teammates – opens a way for God to work in their lives, also.

There are eight common steps in building a team for one of your missions. While they may not always be obvious as you will see in the examples that follow this list, they are basic to building a team. We’ll explore each in turn. In all of them, pray for God’s guidance.

1. Phrase your mission as a vision of what might be. For example, suppose you have a manager over your department who is so focused on getting ahead himself that he routinely steals ideas submitted by his staff. As a result, his own star is rising, but the morale in his department keeps hitting new lows. Several workers have already left and others are considering leaving. A possible vision might be to show him, in an appropriate way, that great managers bring out the best in their team by turning average workers into stellar performers. They do this by recognizing, developing, and promoting people and their bright ideas.

2. Think of likely helpers – people who might respond to your vision. Think of people who can stay clearheaded even when upset about something. If you have a hard time thinking of a potential teammate, ask around. Church members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors can suggest people with similar interests. People are often brought together by third parties. And think broadly about potential helpers. Some may be church members. Some may be lapsed members but still people of faith. Some may be among those who believe without belonging. Perhaps, the faith of your potential helper is unknown. As you talk, you may hear this person of unknown faith is an agnostic (says it is impossible to tell whether or not God exists) or an atheist (says there is no God). It may even be that the only likely helper is already known to you to be an agnostic or an atheist. Don’t worry. As long as that person is committed to love and justice as primary values, they may well be just the one or ones to help you. That commitment may be found in a teacher, or counselor, or doctor. Yes, sometimes it takes the help of a professional to get where we believe we are called to go.

3. With a specific person in mind, think of how you would describe that vision in a way that would probably appeal to that person and ask for their help. Let your knowledge of your potential teammate guide your choice of words. Use wording that, at this stage, is free of religious language. Also choose words you would use with them in any other conversation. This will put them at ease and help you to be understood. Some examples: “Wow. The boss took credit for another idea from one of us. This needs to change. Want to help me to look for ways to make such a change? ” Or, “Our boss is not a bad guy and I can see him becoming better able to share the spotlight. He just needs some help. Could you work with me to find ways to give that kind of help?” Or, “We all spend so much of our lives working that it needs to be a place where we can both contribute and enjoy what we do and I want to work for that. How do you see it? Do you want to work at it, too?”

Be alert for suggestions your potential teammate might offer as you talk. Their suggestions might well enhance the vision and point to some ways to fulfill it that you have missed. If so, revise your way of phrasing what you want to do.

4. Think of words to express how the vision is part of God’s mission. This step helps you to avoid being tongue-tied when that time to talk comes. Think carefully about what to say and when to say it. If it’s done poorly, it can really strain a relationship. You are not seeking a way to pull out of them some statement of their own faith or to confront them in some way. Rely on your own efforts to practice of love and justice to provide the base for any talk about God. And, for maximum effectiveness, keep your religious wording to a minimum. For example, as in the workplace story from Basic Tools 3A, you might say, “I believe we are created to work together in harmony so that all of us feel that we matter and will be heard.”

If you know you’re talking to a religious person you can talk plainly about God. Still, be brief and to the point. It can be as easy as saying, “I believe God wants our work to be well received and respected. We should be recognized for what we contribute.”

If you’re not talking with a religious person, you might be more indirect at first saying, “Look, I’m a person of faith and just believe that things could be better and that we should work together in harmony.” If you’re careful in how you say this, your potential teammate will respect that you have faith but are not trying to push it on him or her. What’s more, this might be the first time your teammate has ever heard about faith leading someone to try to improve, as in our example, a work-related situation. As Christians, we know that God cares about our work lives, but others we work with may not know that. We owe it to everyone we work with to be ready to share our sense of why we do what we do and our ultimate source of help.

5. Also, think of words to use – when the time is right – that point to prayer and Sunday worship as places to go for help to follow through on the vision. Once you’ve drawn one or more into the mission and they are working with you, you can – at some time – suggest that being part of church life might help them to carry on their part of the mission. Such times may, also, be when they are frustrated by opposition or resistance or, simply, by fatigue when they want to be active. Be able to describe in everyday words what church life and worship mean to you. As one person puts it: “It reawakens my hope for a better world and helps me to keep at it. There really is a power at work out there who never gives up. And being there with others who are seeking to live the same way helps me know I am not alone.”

This can be a unique chance to invite nonchurch people to explore the faith. Perhaps, invite them to a church-based activity you believe they would enjoy. Perhaps, share how a sermon or a study group gave you some insight that is helping you to do the work. This could be the place to go on to describe in everyday words what church life and worship mean to you.

If you’re working with churchgoers, you can simply suggest, “Let’s keep each other and this mission in our daily prayers;” or “Let’s not forget to take this mission to church on Sunday, offer it to God, and ask for God’s help to continue the coming week.”

6. Now. actually share the vision with the prospective helper and ask for their help. Draw on your choice of words in #3 above.

7. When the time is right, point to God’s connection with the vision. When such a time comes, be careful to ask for the permission of the other – such as, “Can I share something of what I believe about this?” Some occasions for such sharing might be times when the other seems to be becoming intensely interested in working with you or is talking of some of the good results that might come from the work. Draw on your choice of words from #4 above.

8. When the time is right, talk about prayer and Sunday worship as places to go for help to follow through on the vision. Draw on your choice of words from #5 above. If you haven’t been a churchgoer this is a step you might well skip for now. You can always come back to it later once you have found a church home.

In these steps 4 to 8, you are participating in a life-centered evangelism. Like “missionary,” “evangelism” is another misunderstood word. When we hear “evangelist” or “evangelism,” we often think in stereotypes: the gleefully smiling man who comes to our door at dinner time with pamphlets and talks without listening as we try to free ourselves from him. We’re not talking here about that kind of evangelism. We’re talking about something very different. We’re talking about people around you seeing you at work daily to make the world a better place. Your actions and your words in the context of your actions speak louder than any pamphlet ever could. Help others to join the mission of Jesus Christ and you are a true New Testament evangelist. Jesus called people to join him in his mission (see Mark 1:17, 2:14, and 8:34). With the Spirit’s help, we are calling others to join Jesus’ mission.

You might worry that people do not want to hear you talk about God and the church. Just remember that our talk about God and the church is something the other person deserves to hear sooner or later. Our teammates have a right to know the basis of our actions and the source of power to do them. This is not an intrusion into someone else’s life, but a sharing of who we are. Many times it may be the most powerful “storytelling” we ever do. You are saying, “God is real for me and might be for you too.” This is a much more apt way to evangelize than asking the other person to listen to a long-winded account of your own coming to faith. Hold your own story for a later time and, when that time comes, tell your story in a way that connects with what you have come to know about the other person. And do it in three sentences or less!

Finding a Teammate: Four Examples

Susan finds a teammate to help revitalize her community

Susan represents her ward on the city council. You read about her before in the section on mission fields. See how many of the seven steps above are present or implied as Susan finds a teammate.

Susan wanted to revive the rundown 64-acre park in her ward by starting a farmer’s market there. She turned to a man she knew who had coped with an illegal operation of some kind in his neighborhood. He had so impressed her that she made him her park commissioner. She resolved to try the idea with him. She asked, “Can you imagine what the park might become again?” Then she shared her vision of this 64-acre park in the center of the city that might one day hold a senior center, a swimming pool, a YMCA, tennis courts, and a sports stadium. It would be a focal point for the community; a place where folks could just stroll and “people watch.”

For Susan, the farmer’s market would be a step in the direction of acknowledging that God made us to live together in community and to provide each other a safe and pleasant place to live. At times, with church people, she has said things like, “I am as aware as you are that what we are doing is God’s work.” Notice that Susan has not spoken about God or churchgoing with her prospective teammate at this particular moment. It was just not the right time. But if that opportunity should present itself she is ready to take it. In the meantime, she now has a teammate to help her make her vision of a better local community a reality.

In looking for the seven steps for finding a teammate, did you see that Susan followed Step1 by having a vision for what the park might be – a farmer’s market? She then went on to Step 2 and identified a likely helper – the park commissioner. We see Step 3 implied in Step 5 when she talks of her vision for the park. Note that we don’t know whether or not she thought about how to tie her vision to God’s mission, Step 4, but we do know that she does not take Steps 6 or 7 and so doesn’t talk with her teammate about God’s connection with her vision. Ideally, Susan would have thought through these missing steps with such words as “Aren’t we called to do this kind of thing where we can?” (Step 4) and “Can I share what I believe about this market? . . . It could be part of God’s work to make life better here” (Step 6). And anticipating saying something like “This is uphill work. My church life helps me to stick with things like this. Come with me sometime if you don’t go to some church already” (Step 7).

We always prepare to go through all seven steps but sometimes it’s better to wait until later to talk about God with a potential teammate. The guiding principle is to meet people where they are and involve them in what we believe to be God’s work without having to talk about it as God’s work with them. While we prepare to talk about God and church life, such talk can wait until a later time.

Jim gets help for some needed time off

We met Jim also in the section on mission fields. He was working nights and caring for the kids during the day while his wife worked as a teacher. He found he was getting irritable at home because he never got a break. He shared this with his wife and wondered if playing golf would give him the break he needed. The choice of golf may sound very conventional but, for Jim, it was a breakthrough just to ask for something for himself. His wife agreed to plan four to five hours twice a month for him to play and sealed the promise with the gift of a new set of clubs.

Jim and his wife are churchgoers. Jim left out talk of God in this instance because it’s assumed. Likewise, since Jim’s wife knows about his commitment to peacemaking in their home, she understood why the time to himself would be so important. To win his wife’s help, Jim only had to tell his wife about the help he needed for his mission at home.

Go down the list of seven steps in finding a teammate to pick out where Jim took each step – or implied it – or, maybe, left one or two out? If you were Jim, what wording might you have considered for each of the missing steps?

Ben finds helpers to mobilize voters

Ben is deeply committed to being active in politics. Recently, he was looking for ways to get voters out on Election Day to ensure their voices were heard. A woman from another town, Dee, was interested in getting involved and contacted Ben to set up a meeting. When it came time for the meeting, she brought her friend, Jill, whom Ben did not know. Ben saw the opportunity to recruit two team members and took it.

As he spoke of his vision for every voice to be heard, he took a moment to mention to both women, “I hope you don’t mind my sharing a bit about myself here, but I think God wants everyone to vote and I want to help make that happen.” Short and sweet. Ben did not mention going to church but will later when the time is right. His carefully chosen words offended neither woman and both are now working with him to make this mission in the wider world come to pass.

Did you find Ben taking or implying each of the seven steps or did he omit one or two? If you were Ben, what wording might you have considered for each of the missing steps?

Amy finds some help – an unusual, but true, story

Amy’s teen son had fallen in with the wrong crowd. His grades were dropping and Amy knew the crowd used drugs. She knew her son liked to help people – such as helping with church dinners – and to make new friends. If only she knew of some other mother with the same problem and a son who also liked to help people and who made friends easily. Amy told a church friend her problem. Her friend said, “My neighbor, Endice, is in the same situation. Let me get the two of you together.” Amy gasped saying, “I never heard that name before until two nights ago. I had a dream that ended with someone telling me to help Endice!”

Which of the seven steps did Amy take or imply? Which were left out? If you were Amy, what wording might you have considered for each of the missing steps?

Activity 6: Practice in Finding a Teammate
Practice in finding a teammate can be a rich learning experience. It is best to do this activity with a partner or break up your group into trios. To start, each person will need a full copy of this activity for reference in completing the form and as a guide for the practice. Plan fifteen to twenty minutes for completing “Preparing to Practice Finding a Teammate.” If you’re working alone, ask a friend to listen to your preparation and give you feedback on it. Better still, ask your friend to play the role of the potential recruit and to give feedback afterward. You’ll need feedback from someone. The directions that follow are for a trio. If there are just two of you, proceed as follows, but omit the observer.

Yes, this is a complex procedure. However, once you have done it two or three times, you will have learned the process well enough for it to be almost automatic as you work with Questions 6, 7, and 8 on the worksheets for each mission field. A reminder: when you print out the worksheets, allow about 3/4 to a full inch of blank space for each response.

Step One:
Each person chooses one of their own mission fields from Activity 2.

Step Two:
Each person has at hand their responses to the questions for that mission field.

Step Three:
Each person completes the form at the end of this section, “Preparing to Practice Finding a Teammate.”

Step Four:
In each trio, decide who will be the first one to practice seeking a teammate. Then choose someone to be the potential teammate. The one seeking (the “seeker” from here on in Activity 6) a teammate describes the potential teammate they have in mind. Give the name, sex, age, what about the person makes them a potential teammate, and what is known about their religious convictions – that is, whether the potential teammate is already known by the seeker to be a person of faith (active, lapsed, or one who believes without belonging), an agnostic, an atheist, or a person whose faith is not known. This gives the person taking the part of the potential teammate enough information to know how to act out the role. From that point on, the potential teammate acts the part as they choose. The third person in the trio acts as an observer and looks for what helped or hindered the approach made.

Step Five:
Begin the practice and go as far, at least, as outlining the mission, asking for help with it, and working with the response from the potential teammate. Don’t be surprised if the potential teammate asks for details about what he or she will be asked to do. Most people would. Keep in mind that the seeker’s talk of how God might be present is optional and will probably be determined by what the seeker knows about the faith position of the potential teammate. This practice will probably take about five minutes or so.

Step Six:
At the end of the practice, the observer is first to share what was seen to help or hinder the approach made. Second, the potential teammate shares what they experienced. Third, the seeker shares what they experienced.

Now, switch roles and repeat the process until everyone has practiced seeking a teammate. When possible, allow about thirty minutes for each round. When all three have had their practice, the trio shares various learnings and discusses them as desired. This sharing can be enriched by pairing up trios for the reflection. Once you’ve practiced, we trust you will be better prepared and more comfortable looking for teammates. If you are concerned about how you will approach people from several different walks of life, repeat the practice keeping in mind the specific person you will approach. If you are approaching several people to help you in one mission field and some have faith and some don’t, use a different approach for each of them.

Keep in mind that not everyone you approach will respond with agreement to help. Don’t give up! Ask God to lead you to find someone who will work with you.

Preparing to Practice Finding a Teammate: Worksheets
From your daily missions , select the mission for which you will practice finding a teammate. Have in hand your responses to the questions on that worksheet. Those responses – especially for questions 6, 7, and 8 – will be useful.

1. Phrase the mission (from question#5 of the worksheet chosen) as a vision of what might be.

2. Think of the potential teammate (from question #6 of that worksheet) – a person who might respond to the vision. Recall, to the best of your knowledge of the person, if that potential teammate is a religious person or not. Write in the name below. If the person is religious (active, lapsed, or one who believes without belonging), go on to #3. If the person’s faith is unknown or you know already that the person is an agnostic or atheist, go on to #3a – #6a on the next page.

For potential teammates known to be religious: 
3. Write here a rewording of the vision in a way that might appeal to that potential teammate. Be ready to ask for comment or invite questions to clarify the vision and how you expect to work toward it. Finally, have in mind a direct way to ask the potential teammate if they would help. It can be as direct as, “That’s what I hope to do as my goal. Will you help?”

4. Write here how you might talk about God’s connection with the vision. Have in mind that you will do this only with the other’s permission: “Can I share something of what I believe about this?” If the other agrees, go on with sharing the connection you see. If the answer is “no” or “maybe later,” go on to the #6

5. Think of and write out how you might point to prayer and church life and worship as places to go for help to follow through with the vision. If the other’s excitement has been aroused by your talk of God’s connection with the mission, be ready to go on with this step. Again, ask for permission to do so. Begin with something like, “Our goal can be / is hard to reach. Can I share where I turn for help when I need it?” If the answer is “yes,” draw on question #8 from the worksheet. If the answer is “no,” go on to #6 without worry. There may well be other occasions when this subject can be raised. Suitable times for such sharing might be when your teammate seems to be losing hope of making the vision work or is feeling the weight of resistance to what both of you are trying to do.

6. End the conversation with an appropriate next step for the two of you to take together. Your specific vision or mission will suggest what that step might be. Write it out here.

For potential teammates suspected or known to be non-religious: alternates for #3 to #6
3a. Reword the vision (adapting question #6 on your worksheet for this mission) in a way that might appeal to that potential teammate. Even with the person of unknown faith or who is an agnostic or an atheist, use a straight forward approach. Be ready to invite questions to clarify the vision or how you expect to work for it at this point. Finally, have in mind a direct way to ask the potential teammate if they would help. For example, the worker wanting help to speak up to the manager about unfair work conditions might say: “I think that we are not being treated fairly here. Someone has got to start speaking up so we will be treated better. I am willing to try but I need someone I can check with about what I am going to say to be sure I’m on a good track. I also need someone to check with when I do speak up about how I came across. Would you be willing to do that?”

4a. Write here (adapting question #7 on your worksheet) some way to express how you see God might be connected with the mission that would be of interest to the other without being pretentious and would be free of unnecessarily religious wording; then write it in here. Remember, it’s o.k. to wait until you sense the time is right to talk about this. Do be prepared for such a moment because our missions include words as well as deeds. Have in mind how you might open with something like, “Can I share something of what I believe about this? I’m not asking you to share my belief but, rather, I suspect you might be interested – and it might be useful to you to know some more about where I am coming from.” If this person agrees, go on with sharing the connection you see. If the answer is “no,” go to #6. Example from the same situation: “It’s kind of simple. I can’t believe work is meant to be a such a drag. According to Genesis, we are made to love and to work. So, there’s the hope we can make our work better for all of us – the boss included.”

5a. Write out (adapting question #8 from your worksheet) how you might even point to prayer and church life and worship as places where you go for help to follow through. Still, use wording as free of religious language as possible. You might begin with something like, “Our goal is hard to reach. Can I share where I turn for help when I need it? It will be religious, but, maybe, you’d like to know how this works for me.” As in Step 4a, you’ll carefully choose the moment for this sharing. If the answer is “yes,” share your experience. If it is “no,” go on to #6. Don’t forget that even if you receive a “no,” you may well get a chance to talk about what God and the church mean to you later. Suitable times for such sharing might be when the other seems to be losing hope of achieving the goal you have set for yourselves or is feeling the weight of resistance to what you both are trying to do. Example from the same situation: “I’ll be brief. I find that when I pray, I get helped in unexpected ways; and, when I stop praying, the ‘coincidences’ stop happening. And church life holds up the values I am trying to live by and helps me to keep going. If you are curious for more, let me know.”

6. End the conversation with an appropriate next step for the two of you to take together. Your specific vision or mission will suggest what that step might be. Write it out here.