Basic Tools 21: Finding Teammates

Overview:  In this step, you’ll look at one of your missions and plan who might help you and how you might approach them.  The “Getting Ready” section below will guide you through this process.

God’s work is best done as a team effort.  When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he sent them in teams of two.  You need people working with you to achieve needed and lasting change.  This can be most challenging if you’re surrounded by people who don’t see themselves as religious or as people of faith.  We, as a society, tend to shy away from talking about faith and religion so recruiting teammates can be tough. How, then, do you get people to join you in your mission?  In this section, we’ll explore how to 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.

Ease this step by starting with a prayer partner or group working together on just one mission field 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.  It is important to have the support of a prayer partner or group.  Finding prayer partners—as well as finding teammates—opens a way for God to work in their lives, also.

We suggest eight steps in building a team for one of your missions.  While they may not always be obvious in the four examples that follow these eight steps, they are basic to building a team.  We’ll explore each step in turn.

Note: Steps 1 through 5 are your preparation for finding a teammate. Steps 6 through 8 are the actions you take. Note the variations from step 3 (p. 50) on that are suited for a potential teammate who is not religious. Select the mission you want help with the most and have in hand the worksheet from Activity 2 for that mission field. See hints below and  “Example E: Finding a teammate at work” (p. 32) for more hints of words to use at each step

Four examples

Explore the following four examples by looking for how the eight steps above are or could have been present.  You will note that while each step is discernible, several may be done or implied at one time.  For reference, here are the eight steps:

1.  Phrase your mission as a vision of what might be.

2.  Think of likely teammates—people who might respond to your vision.

3.  With a specific person in mind, think of how you would describe your vision in a way that would appeal to your potential teammate and ask for his or her help. 

4.  Think of words to express how you see your vision as part of God’s mission.

5.  Also, think about words to use—when the time is right—that point to church life and worship as places to go for help to follow through on the vision; and invite him or her to join you at some appropriate church activity or time of worship.

6.  Now, go to the potential teammate, share the vision, and ask for him or her to help you. 

7.  When the time is right, point to God’s connection with the vision.

8.  When the time is right, talk about church life and worship as places to go for help to follow through on the vision; and invite him or her to some appropriate church activity or time of worship.  

Getting ready

Step 1. Describe your mission as a vision of what might be. Hint: Use positive words. Focus on the improvement you seek in love and justice. Draw on question 5 from the Activity 2 worksheet.

Step 2. Think of both who would respond to the vision and who would be the best helper – whether or not a religious person. Write in his or her name. Hint: Think broadly. Draw on question 6 from the Activity 2 worksheet. Who is most able to help you? Don’t exclude potential teammates who may not be religious. Choose anyone who is committed to love and justice as primary values. They already share in God’s mission of love and justice even though they do not know it. If the person is religious (active, lapsed, or one who believes without belonging), go on to step 3. If the person’s faith is unknown or you know already that the person is an agnostic (says it’s impossible to know whether or not God exists) or an atheist (says there is no God), go on to step 3a through 6a.

Step 3. Write out or note how you will describe your mission in a way that would interest this person, and include a direct way to ask him or her to help. Note also an appropriate next step to take together. Hint: Avoid overly religious language in this step. Draw on question 6 from the Activity 2 worksheet to speak naturally and simply about your mission in everyday language and put it in a way that would interest this particular person. Write out a simple and direct request for help to use if the prospective helper responds positively. If he or she agrees, note here an appropriate next step that you might take together. Your specific vision or mission will suggest what that step might be.

Step 4. Write out how, with permission, you might describe how you see that the mission can be part of God’s mission. Hint: Begin with asking for permission to share your belief and be ready to be brief. If the answer is “no,” go on to step 6. If “yes,” draw on your answer to question 7 of the Activity 2 worksheet. You are not trying to make a statement of faith or teach anyone. You are sharing what motivates you to carry on this mission – something your teammate has a right to know. Rely on the love and justice in your mission to provide the basis for connecting it with God’s mission of love and justice and to talk of it as a mission; and make explicit reference to God, God’s mission, your faith, the Bible, or the church.

Step 5. Write out how, with permission, you could share with your teammate how church life and worship help you to follow through on a mission; and wonder if he or she might find such help there too. Hint: (If you are not a churchgoer, skip this step.) Ask for permission to share where you go for help. If “no,” go on to step 6. If “yes,” draw on your answer to question 8 on the Activity 2 worksheet. Note how church life and worship help you to follow through on a mission. Note also a way to invite your teammate to share how he or she might find help there in the same or some other way.

Doing it Step

Step 6. Go to the potential teammate, share the mission, and ask him or her to help you. If he or she agrees, perhaps, outline your next step together. Hint: Draw on your answer to step 3 (above). Keep it simple and direct. Do ask for help. He or she can’t respond if you don’t ask. If the answer is “no,” thank the other for considering it. Don’t be discouraged; it may not be the right time for that person. Go on to find a person who will help you. If the answer is “yes,” perhaps, share an appropriate next step for the two of you to take together. Make notes here that might help you.

Step 7. When the time is right, point to God’s connection with the vision. Hint: When the other shows interest or talks of some of the good results possible, ask for permission to share some of your thoughts about how the mission could be part of God’s mission. Draw on your thinking from step 4 above. Make notes here that might help you.

Step 8. When the time is right, talk about church life and worship as places to go for help to follow through on the mission, and invite him or her to share how church life and worship might help him or her in the same or some other way. Hint: (If you are not a churchgoer, omit this step.) Draw on your notes from step 5 above. Make notes here that might help you. Ask for permission to share what helps you that might help him or her too.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING FOR A POTENTIAL TEAMMATE WHO IS NOT RELIGIOUS OR WHOSE RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS ARE UNKNOWN.

Step 3a. Adapting question 6 on your worksheet from Activity 2 for this mission field, restate the mission in a way that might appeal to this potential teammate. Include how you will ask for help, if the response is positive. Hint: Be straightforward in sharing the mission. Invite questions to clarify it or how you expect to work for it at this point. Finally, have in mind a direct way to ask for help. For example, the postal worker wanting help to speak up to the manager about unfair work conditions might say: “When I do speak up, I need to check with someone afterwards to see how I came across. Could I come to you for that help?” If he or she agrees, note here an appropriate next step for you both.

Step 4a. Adapting the answer to question 7 on your Activity 2 worksheet, think of some way to express, with permission, how you see God might be connected with the mission. Use words that will interest the other person without being pretentious; are free of unnecessarily religious wording; and make explicit reference to God, God’s mission, your faith, the Bible, or the church; and are a genuine sharing of a viewpoint and not a call to faith. Write them in here. Hint: Note something like, “May 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 you might want to know – some more about where I’m coming from.” If the answer is yes, share the connection you see. Example from the postal worker: “I can’t believe work is meant to be such a drag. According to Genesis, we are made to love and to work. So, there’s hope we can make this place better for all of us – the boss included.” If the answer is “no,” go to step 6a.

Step 5a. Adapting question 8 from your Activity 2 worksheet, write out how you might point to church life and worship as places where you go for help to follow through; how he or she might find it helpful as well; and how you might offer to help him or her to explore the possibility. Be as free of religious language as possible. Hint: Ask for permission: “Our goal is going to be hard to reach. May I share with you where I go for help when I need it?… It will be religious, but maybe you’d like to know how this works for me.” If “no,” go on to step 6a; if the going gets tough, the answer might be “yes” later. Example from the postal worker: “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. Church also holds up the values I want to live by and that helps me to keep going. It might help you, too. If you are curious for more, let me know.”

Doing it Step

6a. Go to the potential teammate, share the mission, and ask him or her to help you. If he or she agrees, outline your next step together. Hint: Draw on your answer to step 3a (above). Keep it simple and direct. Do ask for help. He or she can’t respond if you don’t ask. If the answer is “no,” thank the other for considering it. Don’t be discouraged; it may not be the right time for that person. Go on to find a person who will help you. If he or she agrees to help, share an appropriate next step for the two of you to take together. Your specific vision or mission will suggest what that step might be.

Step 7a. If and when the time is right, try pointing to God’s connection with the mission. Hint: When the other person shows interest or talks of some of the good results possible, it may be time to ask for permission to share some of what you believe about the mission. Draw on your thinking from step 4a above. Make notes here that might help you.

Step 8a. If and when the time is right, talk about church life and worship as where you go for help to follow through on the mission; and how he or she might find it helpful as well; and offer to help him or her to explore that possibility. Hint: Draw on your notes from step 5a above. Ask for permission to share what helps you that might help him or her too. Be sure to include something like “If you are curious for more, let me know.” Make notes here that might help you.

Four Examples of Finding a Teammate

Susan finds a teammate to help revitalize her community.

Susan represents her ward on the city council.  Her story is part of When the Members are the Missionaries, pp. 47-55.  How many of the eight steps above are present or implied as Susan finds a teammate?

Susan wanted to revive a 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 the 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.” When she asked for his help, he agreed to work with her.

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 with 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.” Here, Susan did not talk about God or church because this was probably not the right time.  Should that opportunity arise, she’ll take it as she has in similar situations at other times.  In the meantime, she now has the teammate she needed.

In looking for the eight steps for finding a teammate, notice 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 in her vision for the park.  As for Steps 4 and 5, we do not know whether or not she thought about how her vision might be part of God’s mission or how church life and worship might help them.  Obviously, she takes Step 6.  We do not see her taking Steps 7 and 8.  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 my thoughts about this market? . . . It could be part of God’s work to make life here better” (Step 6).   And she should have anticipated 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 have a church of your own” (Steps 7 and 8).

We should always prepare to go through all the steps but sometimes it’s better to wait.  The guiding principle is to meet people where they are and to involve them in what we believe to be God’s work without having to talk about it as such.

Jim gets help for some needed time off.

You also met Jim in the section on mission fields.  You may recall that he was working nights and caring for his 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 a gift of new clubs.

Jim and his wife are churchgoers.  Jim left out talk of God in this instance because it’s understood.  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 gain his wife’s help, Jim needed only to tell his wife about the help he needed for his mission at home.

Now, we’ll look at Jim’s story using the eight steps.  Jim knew time for himself would reduce his irritability so that he could continue his peacemaking (Step 1).  Since Jim and his wife are churchgoers, he left out talk of leisure and recreation as part of God’s mission (Steps 4 and7) as well as a mention of the help to be found in church life and worship (Steps 5 and 8) because he could assume them to be part of his wife’s thinking.  Likewise, since Jim’s wife knows about the strain of peacemaking efforts in their home, she could understand why he would need time to himself (Step 3).  In turning to his wife for help (Step 2), Jim had only to tell her about the help he needed for her to agree to it (Step 6).

If you were Jim and wanted to express your thoughts rather than rely on your assumptions about your wife’s thinking, what words might you have planned to use in Steps 4 and 5?

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 (Step 1).  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 decided to take it (Step 2).

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” (Steps 3, 4, and 7).  Short and sweet.  Ben did not mention going to church but will later when the time is right (Steps 5 and 8).  His carefully chosen words offended neither woman and, when asked for their help (Step 6), both agreed to work with him on this mission in the wider world.

If you were Ben, what wording might you have considered for Step 5?

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—he loved to help with church dinners—and to make new friends (Step 1).  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 (Steps 2, 3, and 6).  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!”

Were you Amy, what wording might you use with the church friend as in Steps 4 and 5?

Four steps to practice finding a teammate

Practice in finding a teammate can be a rich learning experience. Do the practice in trios. If you are working alone, find a partner and follow the same steps omitting the observer.

Step one: Each person has the appropriate Activity 6 worksheets in hand or nearby for reference as needed. As leader, clarify the process with a demonstration. Do this while the whole group is still together. Ask a trio to volunteer for the demonstration. Talk them through each part of steps Two, Three, and Four. In the actual practice, this trio plays out the other two situations and has extra time for reflection.

Step two: In each trio, decide who will be the first one to practice finding a teammate. Then choose someone to be the potential teammate. The one seeking a teammate, the “seeker,” describes the potential teammate he or she has in mind. Give the name, sex, age, the characteristics that make the person a potential teammate, and any information about his or her religious convictions – that is, whether the seeker knows the potential teammate is a person of faith (active, lapsed, or one who believes without belonging), an agnostic (says it is impossible to know whether or not God exists), an atheist (says there is no God), or a person whose faith is not known. This gives the person taking the role of the potential teammate enough information to know how to act out the role. From that point on, the potential teammate acts the role as he or she chooses. The third person in the trio acts as an observer and looks for what helped or hindered the approach made. If there are four in the group, two act as observers.

Step three: 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. Also, be ready to share, if appropriate, a next step to take together. 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. Also optional is how church life helps the seeker to carry out his or her missions and how it might help the potential teammate. However, do try to include both of these options in the practice. This practice will probably take about five to eight minutes.

Step four: At the end of the practice, the observer will share what was seen to help or hinder the approach. Second, the potential teammate will share what he or she experienced. Third, the seeker will share what he or she experienced. Now, switch roles and repeat the process until everyone has practiced finding a teammate. When possible, allow up to 20 minutes for each round. When all three have practiced, the trio will share various learnings and discuss them as desired. Enrich the sharing by pairing up trios for the reflection.

Moving Still Further Ahead

Recall the “member mission” vision: all members as agents of Jesus’ mission to make every part of their daily lives more loving and more just; and their congregations guiding and empowering them through their common life and worship.

“Member mission” has been in formation since 1999. The research that provided for a book and guide was funded by Trinity Church grants. Excerpts from the book, When the Members are the Missionaries (2002), have been included in this guide – stories of people living their daily missions and how churches can support their members on mission. The book called for this guide which, we trust, helps people to connect the vision with their own daily lives.

Over these years, the experience and feedback from on-site training and consultations have provided for the continuous development and improvement of the process and its resources, including this guide.

Scores of churches with their hundreds of members in five denominations in the United States and ten communions in Tanzania suggest the breadth of our learning. Those “learnings” greatly shaped this present work.

Slightly condensed versions of this workbook are available in Spanish, Chinese, and Swahili (write to membermission@aol.com for copies).

Use the various parts of the guide to suit the needs of each user or group. We believe that each part of this guide can help people to rethink their daily activities to see how they can be – and often are – part of God’s mission.