Team Development: Avoid Seeing Your Boss, the Pastor, as an Enemy

Pay attention to details and make sure you don’t fall prey to some typical human instincts when things 'don’t go your way.'

Team Development: Avoid Seeing Your Boss, the Pastor, as an Enemy
During the meeting, a number of good ideas are coming together, and the taskmasters among your team find a certain idea viable, affordable, and schedulable. In this photo, Jon Ferguson, co-founding pastor at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Ill., far right, makes a presentation about a big idea during a yearly brainstorm, as members of the church's tech staff listen on, including myself, in the blue top, fifth from the left.
Credit: Eric Bramlett

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You are the team leader.

The brainstorm is percolating … Overflowing with goodness and ideas that have never seen the light of day, until now.

The meeting concludes, and not only are the 30,000-foot ideas coming together, but the taskmasters among your team finds the idea viable, affordable, and schedulable. Pretty much nothing is stopping this idea from becoming a key moment in a weekend service, thanks to your amazing team.

There’s only one problem.

You haven’t run it by your boss, the pastor.

Your pastor has the ultimate veto power, dispensed from the heavens and delivered solely unto you, the team leader. You leave from your high-powered brainstorm and head to the mountaintop, hoping that the man or woman working their preaching-magic in their library/study/office/hideout, will see fit to grant you that desired permission to pursue that idea.

Your pastor wants you and your team to be successful — it may just be that he or she feels like your pitches are forcing their hand in ways that they are not comfortable.

There is only one possible positive response, but a plethora of negative ones. It’s either an enthusiastic “yes!” or it’s:

“Hmmmm… I’m not sure that will be ______ enough.” (fill in the blank: funny, impactful, heartfelt, amazing, good)

Or: “I’m not sure that idea is grounded in scripture.”

Or my favorite: “I’m changing the talk this week and that idea won’t work for the new bible verses that I’ll be using.”

You walk away, dejected, and are probably asked on your way out to build another montage clip for Sunday, probably of Michael Scott, i.e., Steven Carell, doing hilarious things in an office, while wondering how much your pastor and the fictional character have in common.

The scenario I have created above is fictional.

I am confident in saying that many arts church team leaders, though, will come face to face with how to deal with similar problems at some point down the road. The pastor is not entirely at fault, but whether the church is large or is a plant, multisite or not, this creative tension can quickly develop between your team and the pastoral team.

How can a creative team leader build and develop their team, when so much about what that team has permission to develop, is dependent upon the permission of your pastor?

The fact is, I am blessed to have a fairly healthy collaborative relationship with my senior pastor. I feel like I can move back and forth between his leadership and my team with ease and honesty.

More About Eric Bramlett
Eric Bramlett has been the creative arts director for Community Christian Church in Naperville, Ill., since 1996. He is responsible for overseeing large-group experiences from initial artistic vision through production at all 12 CCC locations. He also promotes creative collaboration and artist reproduction for NewThing, CCC's international church-planting mission. Eric continues to be involved in the Chicago theatre scene, as an Artistic Advisor for Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago. He hosts a church media podcast for pastors at, and co-authored “The Big Idea,” with Dave and Jon Ferguson. Eric lives in Naperville with his wife, Kristi, and their three children, Sadie, Dillon and Anna. To contact Eric, you can email him or on Twitter @billshazzar.
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