Dysfunctional Teams

I read a great article today by Nancy Ortberg about how to avoid the 5 most common dysfunctions of a ministry team. She takes the principles from Patrick Lencioni‘s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and applies them to ministry work. It’s a great, practical read for church leaders.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Here are a few quotes that I particularly enjoyed:

  • Simply put, “team” is just business language for “community”—the glorious intersection of task and people. For thousands of years, the Bible has spoken of using our giftedness in community. Strong leadership emerges in biblically functioning, God-honoring, Christ-forming community. On the other hand, since community is made of people, you can be sure every community is susceptible to dysfunction.
  • Vulnerability-based leadership invites others to initiate, innovate, and take ownership of the ministry by making significant contributions. In this way, energy is generated throughout the team and not only by the strong central leader. Our churches are hungry for this kind of leadership.
  • Avoiding conflict almost guarantees that we will fail to build relationally deep teams, and that we will be unable to make the best decisions for the organization. When teams don’t engage in healthy, passionate, unfiltered debate around the most important issues, they inject more politics into the organization and make mediocre decisions that will deliver mediocre results.
  • One of the biggest challenges a leader faces in helping the team get better in this is that you have to allow yourselves to do it poorly in order to learn to do it well. This isn’t the kind of thing that you just read about, tell your team about, and then expect to do it well. It takes practice, sometimes painful practice.
  • Leadership is, at its heart, about the promises we make and the promises we keep
  • Great teams get to the point where the members hold each other accountable. Failing to live up to group commitments does not result in private, one-on-one talks about the failure but to team discussions of accountability. Teams do this so they can pursue the cause about which they feel so deeply, and so that they are involved in helping each other learn and grow.
  • As leaders in the church, we understand that results are not completely in our hands. We are not ultimately responsible for everything. However that is very different from saying that it is okay to rationalize the fact that the ministry is not moving forward because of our poor or misguided efforts.
  • Great leaders perform autopsies on poor results. They are constant learners and listen to God, as best they can, and relentlessly pursue doing things better and more effectively. They are passionate about results, because results affect people. Sometimes results are people.

Which dysfunction is the greatest challenge for your team?

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  • Judi Free.com April 29, 2008  

    The point about making and keeping promises is so powerful. Great points across the board.

  • Pete Wilson April 29, 2008  

    Great post Jenni. I’m not sure about our team but I would say personally the “vulnerability” one is tough at times for me. I want to continue to lead through leaders allowing them to reach their full potential as a leader. To do that I know I have to be willing to release them to lead!