That's when I began to see the effects of it.
Seventh Grade is the year when I fully experienced the awkward middle school years. It was the year I had the frame of a female Russian gymnast, the smoothness of Steve Urkel and feet the size of Shaquille O'Neal. I made Screech look like a major player. It was a painful year.
What is odd about this season is that which brought such awkwardness to me is what would eventually bring me strength. I was growing.
Growth changes everything.
Growth can be weird, painful, awkward, not always fun. However, growth doesn't naturally result in maturity. Maturity is a decision. It begins when we embrace the awkwardness of growth.
Leading a team is similar. Growth does not ensure success, health or maturity. These occur when we shift mentally, organizationally and behaviorally to embrace our next level.
Osborn uses a sports analogy to illustrate that as your leadership team and congregation grows, you are actually switching games when it comes to how you need to organize and communicate. Leadership teams that fail to grasp and adapt to these changes "invariably experience unnecessary conflict or shrink to a congregational size that best fits the structures and patterns they cling to." (p.61).
There are two important indicators that the game has changed: Relational Overload and Increased Miscommunication. "The larger the team gets and the more hectic the game becomes, the greater the need for special meetings, chalk talks, and film sessions to get and then keep everyone on the same page." (p. 69). At each level there are 3 major areas of impact: Communication, Decision Making and Relationships.
Here are 4 sizes, styles and ways that your team has to evolve if growth is to occur, or keep occurring.
This is where most leaders start out. The solo pastor or leader is like a track star. Many choose to stay in this role. One issue in this stage is loneliness.
These leaders are like sprinters, they may work out with others but they perform alone. In smaller churches this provides opportunity for deeper relationships. However, it becomes a safe place for leaders who need to keep control or may be married to their ideas.
When growth happens, staff is added. Since this happens slowly, a smaller group of staff forms. This size and style of leadership team resembles a golf outing.
Golf is a relational game. These teams are as well. Golf is best when played with friends. Typically these teams have similar skills. If one player is more skilled, they often earn the dominant voice.
Often golf is less about the game and more about the connection. Long conversations, best friends and hanging out after to plan the next round are a hallmark.
Relational leaders most enjoy this stage. Often, they remain stuck here.
People who were used to being golfing buddies are often in for a “relational shock” when the church grows and the game changes.
With any success a team will grow beyond the foursome. Here the team relates to one another more like a basketball team. A team sport, not a friendship sport. Basketball is played in front of a larger crowd. Each team has stars and role players. Talent indicates importance.
A staff of 5-12 members is similar. Everyone is in the loop. There are no surprises. Everyone knows what everyone else should be doing. Coaches address everyone at the same time.
During a basketball game, those who are not playing watch those who are. Everyone is involved on both ends of the court. Players are able to play many positions with ease. While relational depth is not a cornerstone of basketball teams, there is a camaraderie that exists.
Great teams have a star or two. These players make or break the team. When growth requires a basketball style team to evolve it is often the stars who struggle the most.
When your primary leadership team goes beyond 10 or so, the game has to change. More like a football team. "This change can be very unsettling for those who prefer golf or basketball. And for those who still think they're playing golf or basketball, it can be downright dangerous." (p. 66).
Football is specialized. Knowing and executing your role is critical. Guards do not become quarterbacks. Teamwork trumps one-on-one skill. Individual talent is beaten by healthy systems. Great athletes who do their own thing mess up entire games.
Not everyone knows what others are doing. Offense and defense are different teams with different game plans. When not in the game, they may not watch their teammates. Instead they huddle with their position coach and plan what is next.
Those who love basketball struggle with the adjustment up. They feel out of the loop or insignificant. There are some who simply cannot make this change.
The biggest struggle...
My team is currently in between a basketball team and football team. Can I be honest? It is hard. My gut tells me that it will only get harder. As you assess your team I will leave you with a final thought from Larry Osborne that sums up the tension I feel most as we change the game we are playing.
Expect resistance when shifting between sizes. Duffers who thrive on leisurely fairway talks will feel cheated when you suddenly call an in-bounds play for the last shot. They don't want to substitute rambling conversations with agenda-driven meetings. For many of them, it's not the game but the relationships that count most. And hoopsters who once knew everything about the game plan aren't usually thrilled with a new structure that leaves them focusing on only part of the picture. For them, knowledge holds the key to power and prestige.