Churches, Church Staffs, and the San Antonio Spurs


It shocked most sports pundits! 

The Miami Heat, with their trio of superstars, came into the NBA Finals heavily favored over the San Antonio Spurs.  Now everyone knows that the underdog Spurs thoroughly thrashed the Heat in just five games.  Heat superstar Le Bron James, the best basketball player in the world, said, “They dominated us in every facet.”  Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra, added, “It was exquisite basketball with ball movement and player movement and unselfish basketball.”  ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said about the Spurs, “The humility and integrity off the floor is something to behold.”

The San Antonio Spurs did not have one All-NBA first teamer on their roster, but what they had was balance, depth, and great coaching, as well as sharing opportunity, credit, and recognition. 

The Spurs' unselfishness and playing together resulted in an NBA Finals record, making 53% of their shots from the floor.  Coach Greg Popovich told his players, “I’ve never been more proud of a team nor have I ever gotten so much satisfaction from a season in all the years I have been coaching.”

We love superstars, and professional sports in our society is built around that love.  As William Rhodes of the New York Times wrote, “Some championship teams have great soloists and casts that willingly support them; other championship teams play as ensembles.”  The Spurs were an ensemble.

Here are a few of the lessons that churches and church leaders can learn from the Spurs' exceptional teamwork:

1. Build a church staff team that features balance and depth. 

Very few churches are going to sustain long-term growth with one “super star” on the staff—whether it is a lead pastor, worship pastor, or someone else.  Rather, sustainable growth will most likely be built around teams that have a variety of gifts and skills, and are willing to share recognition for success all around the team. 

2. Create an environment that encourages team members to stay long-term. 

Tim Duncan is taking less money, far under his market value, to stay in San Antonio.  What kinds of things keep church staff members around besides pay level?  Giving a team clear direction, helping everyone on the team know their role and how their performance will be measured, and having some fun along the way.  Vary staff meetings so they are not always the same, create some fun surprises for the team, take an annual staff retreat that is part business and part fun, and praise specific team members in front of the team and church. 

3. Share significant opportunities with team members. 

The Spurs were so balanced that it was a different player who would lead the scoring for the team in many games.  They shared the opportunities for significant contribution.  Leaders, trust individuals on your team with important pieces of your church strategy and future.  All team members want to feel they are having a large impact on the future of the church.

But, it all starts with putting a quality team together of balance, humility, and depth.  Our goal at Vanderbloemen Search Group is pairing such team members with churches and leaders all over our nation.  

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