Is The Remote Mindset Killing Your Team?

Just because you have a team, doesn’t mean you have teamwork. I’ve been struggling with this idea of team work lately, especially in regards to ministry in  the local church.

I’ve built a few teams and I have felt the euphoric blessing of synergy, but, in the age of side hustles and independent work, I’m wondering if teamwork is dead and individualism is king. Maybe it’s has been all along and I didn’t notice.

Now, I don’t have any concrete proof of this, but I  read an article that points out that several companies have recalled their telecommuters. This is only one article, but I think it offers two reasons why you might want to draw your team closer.


One of the reasons the article gives for drawing people back together was to generate innovation.

“I think these companies are really struggling to compete at an innovation level with smaller-stage organizations,” said Thanh Nguyen, managing director of HR consulting firm Connery Consulting. “They’re thinking of every single possible way to reunite people to drive better innovations.”

Companies are choosing innovation when their telecommuters have high productivity rates. But, what are high productivity rates when you’ve grown stale over the five years? You’re doing more of the same faster with little progress.

Entrepreneur Magazine shares four ingredient of the innovation process

Creating   Advancing   Refining  Executing

I think these four parts of the innovation process are best practiced in a team setting. Sure, I can do all of these by myself, but the best outcome surfaces when everyone gets to handle and offer their twist on the idea; kind of like passing around the old game Bop It. Some one pulls on the ideas, the next person twists the idea and then someone bops the idea.

In reality, every staff member in a church is now a telecommuter. Most youth pastors I know don’t have office hours and can do most of their work from home if they’d like. The churches they work for aren’t super busy on a weekly bases which allows for more “free” time to pursue other things. This leads to the second reason why companies may be pulling their team back together.


“Our experiment in letting people work from home on Fridays backfired,” said Richard Laermer, the CEO of RLM Public Relations, a NYC-based firm that has 11 employees. “The things people did on their ‘free’ time astounded me.”

Laermer points to the immaturity of certain staff members, and their lack of desire/ability to focus on work while out of the office as the reasons why he eliminated telecommuting (and fired a few employees).

For the past eight years  I have been a telecommuting youth pastor. I worked on my own to design a youth ministry that would make disciples, keeping in mind the vision of my pastor. Our ‘team” rarely had a meeting, instead we had short 15 minute conversations. For those of you who may think this is your dream job, try this for eight years.

Eight years of little to no collaborative planning, no cohesive vision between ministries, and no strategy for reaching or discipling  lost people. We each simply worked, like worker bees, hard on the ministry we were over.

If not for years of experience (and approaching 50), a drive to improve myself, and the work I do to equip other youth workers, I would have been at home bingeing Netflix, playing video games and wasting time. If I learned anything, I learned the necessary discipline to launch out on my own and to keep my priorities straight without a boss looking over my shoulder.

Let me be honest, a less mature youth worker would have squandered the opportunities and broke under the isolation like a  prisoner in solitary confinement. My team lacked the focus and desire to “make things happen”. Was this due to the remote mindset? Not entirely, but both the word culture and our church culture contributed to it.

I believe it is because of the remote mentality, fostered in our church and our culture, that building innovative, hard working, goal driven teams has become more difficult. If not for the monthly meetings I held with my team, we would have been lost.

If you can’t tell, I like face to face meetings vs email to email meetings and , even while writing this have thought, is my way just an old way of doing things? Is face to face team building a thing of the past? Am I just romantic about these kinds of meetings? Isn’t it the end result that matters? I am  process kind of guy, I believe the process of getting there is equally important as getting there, so my pursuit of team building and empowering will continue.

Your Turn

Do you think the “remote” mentality has negatively impacted your team building efforts? How so?

Has the “remote” mentality alway been there and culture has used online tools  to further distance people from one another, hurting the innovation process and allowing immaturity to sabotage goal setting?





Three Ways A Committed Mission Will Awaken Your Youth Ministry

This is part five of a nine part series called 9 Dynamic Ways To Revive Your Youth Ministry. You can start at the beginning HERE.

We talked about Reinvigorating Your Youth Ministry With A Clear, Compelling Vision. Vision is great. It’s the end game. It’s what you ultimately want to to see in your student and ministry. Sadly, vision statements become empty words when they are not paired with the action, the mission, that makes it happen.

A great vision without a great mission is delaying the inevitable. I’ve see churches roll out their vision statements and not change a thing. The expectation was always to get people excited and let the excitement carry them to the pointe where they didn’t even remember what the vision was.

So, what do you have to do? First, share the vision. Next,

If you’re serious about the vision

You cannot keep adding or replacing programs that do not work. If the program is not fulfilling the ultimate vision you have, it must go, otherwise it’s getting in the way and working against the results you want.

On the other hand, if the program in question furthers the vision, you better be taking about it, believing in it, practicing it, inviting others to it and becoming the end results you want to see. If you are not living it, your kids are not catching it.

How serious are you about the vision?

If kids can buy in, you can do it

What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and its grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.  – John Lewis

Everyone does not have to agree. The leaders job isn’t to get everyone to agree, it’s to find consensus and lead the change. There will be those who will buck the system, determine ahead of time who those people will be and figure out a way to make them fans before the change occurs. Be proactive.

Once the decision is made, set the date for change, then make it happen.

Keep the vision in front of them and the mission to follow

The visions is the why. Why are we doing this? So we can become what our vision says we want to be. There will be times when the mission is hard and that is when you say, “But the vision is worth it.” Not everyone will agree with that but if you keep the WHY in front of the HOW, you’ll attract others who want to be a part.

Preach messages, create graphics, have rally nights, celebrate your progress, all of this is to keep the vision moving forward.

If you see progress it’s because you scheduled progress to happen. It did not happen by accident.

Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected. – Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg saw it, then he said it, then he did it and keeps dong it, on purpose.

We can do the same in our youth ministries.

Continue on with the sixth post in the series,  5 High Value Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Middle School Ministry.

Six Questions To Ask About Your Schedule

I was recently talking with a young man about his schedule and he asked for some feedback on how he spent his time. I told him to send me a copy and I’d take a look.

The schedule he sent me was solid. It seemed like he had a handle on his responsibilities. Now, I don’t know all the ins and outs of his church or how busy they are, but from what I saw, his schedule looked pretty standard.

I sent him back few questions that might be good for all of us to review in light of our schedules.

Am I doing what I’m strongest at and delegating my weakness?

We spend way too much time trying to get better at something we have no business getting better at. There are five people you know who can do what your doing right now, better. Why not have them do those tasks and you focus on what you good at?

If you don’t know someone, check out some place like Fiverr or Upwork to connect with professionals who can do the tasks that need to be done better than you can.

Here is my message: stop doing sh*t you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion. – GaryVaynerchuk

What are my time wasters?

What’s getting in the way of being more productive? This is the key. Is it people coming into your office and chatting with you? Get rid of the chairs in your office or put something in them so people can’t just come in and sit down.

Is it the internet? Set the timer on your phone to 15 minute while you surf the web and when the alarm goes off, you go back to work.

Is it social media?

This INC. article shares 8 time wasters we should also be aware of, here are a few

Postponing harder tasks – Tackle the hard stuff early

Saying Yes. – You can’t help everyone and it’s ok to say no to things.

Unnecessary meetings – If you can solve it with an e-mail or a phone call, do that instead.

I do not want to waste any time. And if you are not working on important things, you are wasting time. Dean Kamen

Am I scheduling re-charge time?

What charges you up? Give time to things that make you happy or make you feel alive. I like to paint models and read so I make sure I schedule time for that. All work and no play…makes us miserable and less effective.

I can be very heads down when it comes to work, so much so that time can get away from me if I am not careful. Planned leisure time is something I feel I have to take. If I have it on my calendar I am more likely to accept it asa normal part of my schedule versus something  I have to take.

“Are you managing your energy well and using it for things that matter? Do you stop to recharge before you push yourself to critically low levels? Unplug to recharge.” ― Susan C. Young

Am I scheduling the most bang for my buck?

What moves the ministry forward? Does putting x amount of time into sermon  prep really move the dial of the over all ministry? I’m not saying it doesn’t for you, but we can be sermon smart and people dumb. Our services don’t run on sermons. it runs on people moved by the Spirt.

Where in your schedule are you making the most investment? If you’re spending a greater portion of your time in an office instead of having breakfast, lunch, or dinner with leaders, kids or others in the church, you may be slowly cutting off your oxygen to what makes your ministry alive.

“If you want innovation, growth, and culture, invest in people, not technology. Technology can’t lead, love, or connect.”
Farshad Asl

How can I serve some else?

When you increase productivity, getting more done in less time, you can help someone else. You could ask to take something off your Pastor’s plate or ask another ministry leader if they need help with a program or skill building.

Helping others is just sowing seeds for the future and shows that you’re a team player. Solve a problem for someone else and it will come back to you.

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.                      – Og Mandino

Determine the WIN moment

I am always determining the WIN (What’s Important Now) moment. Just a minute ago, it came to mind I should text someone and let them know I was praying for their husbands surgery. That’s important now but would mean much less later. Now moments only matter now.

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth. – Bradley Whitford

If after thinking through these questions you’ve decided your schedule isn’t as productive as you thought,, change it; it’s yours to waste or improve.