How to build a team from scratch

05 October 2023

To celebrate the launch of the new A Methodist Way of Life discipleship toolkit, the Evangelism and Growth team is producing a new monthly blog series on leadership and culture change.

Whether you’re mission planning, starting an NPNP, focusing on one of the commitments of MWOL, or re-orienting your church’s focus to discipleship, we hope these blogs will provide inspiration, encouragement and guidance for making your hopes and dreams a reality.

In this first blog, we offer five tips for how to get started finding a team to join you in creating change, if you feel completely alone.

1. Listen

Many of us feel the pressure to get started as soon as possible. Avoid the temptation to rush into things and give yourself permission to simply listen to the people around you. Listening is important for two reasons: we learn things we might not have been aware of, and we value the people we listen to. There’s a reason that so many leaders talk about the power of the one to one! Neil Johnson, Street Banquet pioneer (a Church at the Margins community) says that one to ones help to find “the common ground upon which to build solidarity and grow a movement”.

Listening to people’s passions, frustrations, skills and worries can help us identify people who might have a lot to offer but don’t always know where to start. Danielle Wilson, pastor at Inclusive Gathering Birmingham, notes that “I feel like our community has been built on one-to-one encounters… where I am honoured to hear people's stories and their struggles, but also where we can dream and collaborate and help people's skills and passions to find a home within our growing church." You could discover that Excel wizard you didn’t know you needed, or a long-time local resident who can broker introductions to anyone you want to meet.

2. Question

It’s not uncommon for leaders to feel isolated, and that everything rests on them. But this is often more a sign of stress and overwork than an accurate review of the situation. It’s worth questioning whether you’re really as alone as you might feel. Are there other local leaders who might be happy to chat over coffee? Or old friends who will meet you for a walk and offer a listening shoulder?

Don’t forget to look outside the church. Local community leaders and other faith leaders can be valuable partners. The most enthusiastic volunteers tend to be part of the community. One of the Priorities of the Methodist Church is to work in partnership with others and, for many projects and roles, people may not have to identify as Christians to be able to be part of the team.

3. Ask

We know that a lot of people are feeling very tired right now, and we can feel hesitant to ask them for anything. But you might be surprised at how many people might be willing – even excited – to get involved if you find the right role for them (not just the one you want to fill). The teenager who loves poetry might be terrible at running the church Instagram account, but perfect for offering a creative element for the café church you’ve been dreaming about.

Think about how you ask: explain exactly what’s required, and how you think it might benefit them (such as meeting people, developing skills, or giving back to the community). Give them time to pray and reflect before they respond. It can be helpful to start small, asking someone to help with a single event, or for one week, rather than committing to an ongoing role without an end date. If it works out, they might be excited to keep going.

4. Encourage

No matter how old or young someone is, we all need a bit of encouragement. Be intentional in celebrating people’s gifts and thanking them for their contributions. Tell them what you’ve seen in them which prompted you to ask them to get involved, and praise them when you see them using their gifts, or going deeper in their skillsets. Send them information about webinars, courses, books and podcasts that you think would be of interest.

You might have public opportunities to thank them, like community award schemes, or posting a notice on a local Facebook group. This is also a great way to encourage other local people to get involved by letting them know what’s going on.

5. Pray

We suspect this one might feature in our blogs a lot. Here’s a few suggestions for how to pray for people to work alongside you:

  • Visit a forest or field and picture the people you need. Who is your steady, wise oak tree? The daffodil, adapting form with every season? Who is the bramble, getting stuck in and refusing to give up ground?
  • Take a moment to pause and scan the room during meetings and services, thanking God for the people you see and the gifts God has given them.
  • Pray at the start or end of the day for people you’ve been meeting with. Ask God to speak to them and you about the role they could play.

Remember: your ‘team’ might not be a group of people meeting every Thursday evening. They might not ever all be in the same place at once! But that doesn’t mean that they can’t all play a role in joining you in making things happen.

Activity: On a large piece of paper (or a note taking app) write down the names of people in your church and community. Use different colours to write or draw all the gifts and skills you see in them, and all the passions and frustrations they’ve told you about. In another colour, write or draw where you see connections between these people andthe project or change you’re dreaming about. What insights does this bring to how they might be part of the team? How will you ask them? Finally, pray for all the people and roles on your paper.


Find out more: explore transformational leadership

What’s your top tip for recruiting teams? Let us know on social media: @methodstgb #leadingchange