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.  Activity 6 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.

Getting Ready

1. Phrase your mission as a vision of what might be.  Suppose one of the sections you oversee has a manager who is so focused on getting ahead himself that he routinely steals ideas from his staff.  As a result, his own star is rising, but the morale in his department is at a new low.  Several workers have already left and others are considering leaving.  A 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 by recognizing and developing their specific skills and, then, promoting them.

2. Think of likely teammates—people who might respond to your vision.  Think of people who stay clearheaded even when upset.  If you cannot think of a potential teammate, ask around.  People are often brought together by third parties so perhaps church members, friends, colleagues, or neighbors can suggest potential helpers.  Think broadly.  Some may be trusted professionals or church members.  Others may be lapsed members but still people of faith.  Some may even be among those who believe without belonging.  Perhaps, the faith of your potential helper is unknown.  As you talk, you may discover that 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).  Don’t worry.  As long as this person is committed to love and justice as primary values, he or she may well be just the right teammate.

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.  What you know about your potential teammate should guide your choice of words.  Use wording that, at this stage, is free of religious language.  Choose words you would use in any conversation.  This will put the person at ease and help you to be understood.  Some examples of ways to frame your request: “Wow.  The boss took credit for another idea from one of us.  This needs to change.  Want to help me look for ways to end this?”  Or, “Our boss is not a bad person 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 help him out—for the good of all of us?”  Or, “We all spend so much of our lives at work that our workplace needs to be a place where we can contribute and enjoy what we do.  I want to work for that.  How do you see it?  Would you consider working for it, too?”

As you talk, be alert for suggestions that your potential teammate might offer.  They might enhance your vision and point to some ways to fulfill it that you have missed.

4. Think of words to express how you see your vision as part of God’s mission.  Think carefully about what to say and when to say it.  Done poorly, it can really strain a relationship.  You are not seeking to get some kind of faith statement from the person or to teach him or her in some way.  Rely on the love and justice involved in your mission to provide the basis for any talk about God.  For maximum effectiveness, be brief.  As in the workplace story in the Hints section, you might say, “I believe we are made 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 directly about God.  Still, be brief and to the point.  It can be as plain as, “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, saying, “Look, my faith means a lot to me and I believe that things could be better and that we should work together in harmony.”  If you’re careful in how you talk about your vision, your potential teammate will realize that you are not trying to push your faith 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 a work-related situation.  As Christians, we know that God cares about our work lives, but others we work with may not know that.  Your explanation of why you do what you do can be of great help to your teammate.

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.  (If you’re not a churchgoer, skip this step.  You can always come back to it once you have found a church home.)  Once you’ve gained a teammate or two, you can—at some time—suggest that being part of church life might help them to carry on their part of the mission.  When you face an obstacle to your mission and you and your teammate/s are frustrated, this can be a good time to talk about the church as a place to find help.  Be ready to describe in everyday words how church life and worship help you.  As one person puts it, “It restores my hope for a better world and helps me to keep at it.  God is at work out there in the world and never gives up.  And being there with others who are trying to live the same way helps me know I am not alone.”

Securing a teammate can be a unique opportunity to invite nonchurch people to church to explore faith and the mission of the church.  Perhaps, invite them to a church-based activity you believe they would enjoy.  Share how a sermon or a study group gave you some insight that is helping you with your mission.  Here, especially, be sure to use everyday words as you describe how church life and worship help 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 in the coming week.”

Doing It

6. Now, go to the potential teammate, share the vision, and ask for him or her to help you.  Draw on your thinking in #3 above as you consider how to approach your potential teammate.

7. When the time is right, point to God’s connection with the vision.  When such a time comes, be careful to ask for permission from the other person—“May I share my thoughts about this with you?”  Some occasions for such sharing might be times when the other person seems to be getting interested in working with you or is talking about some of the good results that might come from the work.  Draw on your thinking from #4 above.

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 join you at some appropriate church activity or time of worship.  (If you’re not a churchgoer, skip this step, of course.  You can always come back to it once you have found a church home.)  Draw on your thinking from #5 above.

Jesus called people to join him in his mission (see Mark 1:17, 2:14, and 3:13).  With the Spirit’s help, we are calling others to join Jesus’ mission.  In steps 4 to 8, you are participating in a life-centered and mission-centered evangelism.  Like “mission,” “evangelism” is another misunderstood concept.  When we hear “evangelist” or “evangelism,” we often think in stereotypes: the gleefully smiling man who comes to our door at dinnertime with pamphlets and talks without listening.  We’re not talking about that kind of evangelism.  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 will speak louder than any pamphlet ever could.  Help others to join the mission of Jesus Christ and you are a true New Testament evangelist.

You might worry that people do not want to hear talk about God and the church.  Just remember that our talk about God and the church helps the other person to know us better.  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!

While this procedure seems complex, it is essential.  Moreover, once you have done it two or three times, you’ll know the process well enough for it to be almost automatic.

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.  

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?

 

Practice in finding a teammate in five parts

Practice in finding a teammate can be a rich learning experience.  It is best to do this activity with a partner.  Proceed as follows, but omit the observer.  If you are leading a group, break the group up into trios.

Part One:
Each person chooses one of his/her own mission fields from Activity 2 and, for reference as needed, has in hand his/her worksheet for that mission field.

Part Two:
Each person completes the form at the end of this section (“Preparing to find a teammate”), and keeps it nearby for reference as needed also.  Allow about 15-20 minutes to complete the worksheets.  Be ready to help participants to complete the form as needed.

Part Three:
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 (the “seeker”) a teammate describes the potential teammate he or she has in mind.  Give the name, sex, age, what about the person makes him/her a potential teammate, and what is known about his/her 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 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/she chooses.  The third person in the trio acts as an observer and looks for what helped or hindered the approach made.

Part Four:
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.

Part Five:
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 he/she experienced.  Third, the seeker shares what he/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 had their practice, the trio shares various learnings and discusses them as desired.  Enrich the sharing by pairing up trios for the reflection.
Once you’ve practiced, we trust you will be better prepared and more at ease 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, of course.

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.

 

Worksheets for preparing to find a teammate

From your daily missions in Activity 2, select the mission for which you want to practice finding a teammate.  Have in hand your responses to the questions on the worksheet for the mission field you have chosen.  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, 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, use #3a–#6a on the next page.

 

 

For potential teammates who are religious:

3.  Write here a rewording of the vision in a way that might appeal to that potential teammate.  Refer to question #6 on the worksheet.  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 he/she would help.  It can be as direct as, “That’s what I want to do. Will you help me?”

 

 

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 and draw on question #7 from the worksheet.  You might say something like, “May I share my thoughts about this?”  If the other person agrees, go on with sharing the connection you see.  If the answer is “no” or “maybe later,” go on to #6.
5. Think about and then write down how you might point to prayer and church life and worship as places to go for help to follow through with your vision.   If the other person seems receptive to your talk about 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, “The goal we’ve set is a big one and might be tough to reach but I feel confident taking it on.  Can I tell you 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 below 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 whose religious convictions are unknown: alternates for #3 to #6

3a. Reword the vision (adapting question #6 on your worksheet from Activity 2 for this mission field) 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 straightforward 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 he/she would help.
For example, the postal 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 the right 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. Think of (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 OK to wait until you sense the time is right to talk about this.  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, “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 this person agrees, go on with sharing the connection you see.  If the answer is “no,” go to #6a.
Example from the postal worker: “It’s kind of simple.  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.”

 

 

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 going to be hard to reach.  May I share with you 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 #6a.  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 person 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.  Church also represents the values I want to live by and helps me to keep going.  If you are curious for more, let me know.”

 

 

6a. 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.