“Buy-in is believing in a leader. People buy into a relationship first and then the person’s vision. Through close association with Him, Jesus’ disciples bought into Jesus and then His vision. They even became willing to die for Him. Every effective leader has a core team of people who believe in him or her personally, and because they believe in their leader, they believe in the vision. We shouldn’t expect others to buy into us as leaders if we have not bought into another leader ourselves. It is our authenticity, believability and Christ-likeness that compels people to buy into our vision. Are your team members buying into you because you have bought deeply into Jesus?...”

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Leading Your Team Into the Unknown

Innovate or die. That’s how one great leader described the dilemma of change. If we hold back innovation we do so because of fear of change, fear of losing people, fear of the bottom line.

But leaders lead. Either they lead or someone else will. Innovative leaders assess and they insist on change based on their assessment. They evaluate effectiveness and productivity, and then they make the hard choices.

Great leaders empower their church, team, business and organization to innovate. They challenge the status quo, they model the way forward, they encourage the hearts of the faint-hearted, and they inspire a common vision of what can be.

The last thing a great leader does is accept the status quo. Great leaders appear everywhere we look: in the home, at school, in the office, at church and on the playing field. They are great because they are not satisfied with what is... they know about “change resisters” and “slow-change adapters”, but they flourish in spite of those who don’t do change well.

Great leaders create a culture that says, “We change. We care enough to make hard choices. We believe yesterday’s solutions will not solve today’s problems and will not meet tomorrow’s challenges.”

Great leaders attract other great leaders in the making. They are not interested in creating followers, they want more leaders. Great leaders know an innovative culture attracts more leaders, and more leaders make things happen.

Innovative leaders are not threatened by other leaders. They welcome other leaders to join them because they value leadership more than they value status or comfort or power.

Creative Leadership

“When you collaborate on something that is fundamentally creative, you get to places that you would never get on your own.” John Cleese  

Ideas have a way of building when they can bounce back and forth between people working together as a team.  You know an idea is good when you hear it, and you know when it gets better if there is a collaborative effort of selfless people working on it.  There are no mistakes in the creative effort, even if people on the team misunderstand each other.  You never know where an idea might lead if it is a free flowing green light session.

All Nations Team Held by AK-47 Wielding Angry Father

I just received a message that one of our All Nations teams in the Middle East was held against their will for several hours by a very angry father carrying an AK-47. Why? Because he found a Bible in a gift box given to his 8 year old son. The team has been doing food distribution among Syrian refugees for several weeks. We helped distribute 100's of food parcels and gift boxes, and though we don't normally give out Bibles or tracts to children of refugees without their parents consent, it happened this time by accident.

The father is an Iman (leader of a mosque), who came with some other angry men and closed and locked the team in where they were staying. Fortunately, one of our senior leaders was there on a visit and was able to talk peacefully to the Iman. Things calmed down, he released the team, and then when was asked for the Bible back, he refused. "It's mine Bible now", he said!

The gospel works in some amazing ways!

Ten Functions of an Apostolic Team

Apostolic team defined: “a band of men and women called together by God to advance the kingdom and glorify God by making disciples of lost people and planting and multiplying churches”. Romans 15:7-20

The primary difference between elders serving in a local church and an apostolic team is vision and function. Elders serve by equipping, discipling and overseeing the members of a local church. Apostolic teams focus on pioneering amongst those who have not yet heard the good news. Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Local church elders care for the flock under their charge; an apostolic team does the same thing but also cultivates a church planting culture of faith and vision to reach those who have never heard the good news. A local church eldership can grow into an apostolic team in time if they cultivate apostolic values and vision, and recognize and affirm apostles and prophets to lead the team and lay foundations in their movement.

Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering church planting movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Apostolic teams are focused. They are not satisfied with just overseeing the affairs of a local church. They burn with a desire to plant churches and reach those outside the influence of the gospel, especially those who have never heard of God’s love in Christ.

Apostolic teams are not apostolic because the team members are prophets or apostles. They are apostolic because they have a vision to plant churches where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed. You can be an apostle by gifting and fail to fulfill the purpose of your gift. Apostles are pioneers by calling, but they start new churches to fulfill their calling.

I have a very simple way of defining apostolic teams: they do what apostles did in the book of Acts. They preach the gospel, make disciples for Christ, plant churches and appoint and oversee elders of local churches. They believe God for the impossible and pull down Satan’s strongholds amongst the unreached and the unchurched. They suffer and sacrifice for what they believe. In short, they win, gather, and multiply disciples and churches for Jesus – especially where people are unchurched and unreached.

Ten functions of an apostolic team:

• Impart core values to empower the movement – Acts 2-:17-32 

• Inspire a common vision - 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 

• Model what they believe – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-16, 1 Corinthians 4:16

• Equip & empower others for ministry – 2 Timothy 2:2, Ephesians 4 

• Guard against compromise – 1 Timothy 6:20

• Strengthen people’s hearts as they live radically for God – Philippians 4:2, 6-7

• Cultivate a culture transparency and accountability – Philippians 2:1-11

• Facilitate hearing God in His word – 2 Timothy 3:16

• Listen to the spirit together – Acts 13:1-3

• Learn & grow together – Luke 10:17-20




Choosing Your Team

There are a lot of pressures and stresses for senior pastors and ministry team leaders, but one of the compensations is this privilege: you get to choose your team. In principle, you should not work with people on your team that you did not choose. Never violate that principle. 

Though we must be open to the leading of the Spirit to accept those God sends us, and though others may expect us to “inherit” team members by virtue of the fact that they were there before us, or the organization believes they should join us, but in the end, it is your team. You have the final say in who joins you, and you should exercise that God given responsibility with care, courage and wisdom.

When leaders choose team members or consider new hires, they instinctively know to build a great church or organization they need the best team members possible. We all want to work with great people. But how do we go about selecting team members or new staff? Few leaders take the time to define what they are looking for in team members or new staff hires. Far too many of us accept the first person that is eager to join us, without taking time to probe deeper. Don’t let desperation for help drive your team building!

Let me say again, don’t ever accept team members without confidence that God has brought them to you and that you are absolutely sure that they are the right fit. It is far easier to add someone to your staff or team than to fire them or ask them to leave.

Effective team leaders define the key roles they need to be filled on their team, but more importantly, they have a clearly thought through set of qualifications in mind for team members.

Ask yourself these questions when you consider adding a person to your staff or team:

  1. Do they share my DNA? In other words, are you sure they have your values? More important that great skills or good education is a team member who has your DNA, who shares your values, and grasps and loves the vision of where your team is going.
  2. Do I have good chemistry with them? It took some bad experiences and some personality clashes for me to realize that God gives me freedom to choose who is a good fit for me on my team. This was not the case in the early years of emerging leadership when God was using other people to test me and shape my character, but in my convergence years, I learned that the ground rules change, and God actually wants me to choose people I enjoy working with. Chemistry counts!
  3. Are they a person of trustworthy character? It is better to train a teachable person with integrity, than contend with a person who is unteachable, unfaithful, and unreliable.
  4. Do they have the skills necessary to do the job? Can they get the results you want and others expect? There are some tasks that require better than average performance; a high level of excellence is a must for some roles. There are some projects that should not be launched unless you are absolutely sure a person can get the job done.
  5. Are they courageous? Rather have a team member who takes risks, than one who is cagey and tries to figure out what will “please the boss”. Better to coach a teachable risk-taking person than create dependency on you. Team members who are fearful of making decisions rob your church/organization of passion and zeal. If you have created clear boundaries via clearly communicated values and vision, then empower your team members to get on with the job within that framework.
  6. Will they contribute to the culture we are creating? I ask myself if new team members are high maintenance type people, or are they initiative takers? Do they grasp what we are trying to build, and do they see it a privilege to be part of our core team? Are they “adders” or “subtractors” to our culture?
  7. Lastly, are they humble, honest, hungry and smart? For this part of the list, I can do no better than refer you to Michael Hyatt’s excellent blog,

“What should you look for in the people you hire?” at


Trial and error is a good way to live if you like gambling, but it is not the best way to build a great team. One mentor told me, "Floyd, the first time you make a big mistake, it's free, but after that, God will lift his grace from you and let you suffer the consequences of bad decisions".

Though not an absolute, there is great wisdom in my mentor's advise. Learn quickly or suffer. And I might add, learn from the mistakes and wisdom of others, so you won't suffer.

The seven questions above are a road map to follow. As Michael Hyatt says, "It's hard to find a treasure if you don't have a map". Use these question as a map for choosing your team, and you will find the treasures God has stored up for you in the people he has for you. Great team members are a great treasure!

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter".

Proverbs 25:2