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?





You Won’t Revive Your Youth Ministry Alone

This is the seventh post in my series The 9 Dynamic Ways To Revive Your Youth Ministry. You can start at the beginning here

One of the most powerful movie moments I can remember is from the movie The Abyss. It stars Ed Harris and the scene is Harris’ character Virgil Brigman breaking down while trying to revive his drowned ex-wife.

3:37 -8:30 (some nudity and language)

Youth Pastor’s (and Pastors of all kinds) have fought for their youth ministries and churches like this. They’ve tried to breath new life into, banged on its chest, blew into its mouth, slapped it in the face and screamed at it at the top of their lungs. Some youth ministries respond to that and for others we have to call the time of death.

If youth ministries were only like movies. They play like one, but the endings vary greatly.

Revival doesn’t mean numbers. Numbers can be an offshoot of a youth ministry experiencing revival but it by no means the only indicator.

A youth ministry can be dead and have 100 kids in it. Numbers are not the only indicator of life. Revival means to bring back what was once dead.

Passion for worship

Hunger for the Word

A new love for God and others

This kind of revival doesn’t require numbers to validate it, but a youth ministry revived has a better chance at growing than a dead one. Revival doesn’t come so the youth ministry can grow, revival comes because a loving God wants to have a passionate relationship with our students, growth is a by-product.

If you watched the video, everyone is surrounding Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Someone is pumping the air bag, someone is charging the paddles, someone is doing chest compressions. The others are waiting, hoping, praying.

I have seen a few ministries under my own leadership die. In some cases, it was me, alone, trying to bring the group back to life. I preached, I prayed, I outreached, but nothing. It’s possible that even the best teams couldn’t have resurrected these youth ministries, but too many youth ministries don’t have resurrected leaders or teams. The dead cannot bring back the dead.

As grim as this sounds, dead youth ministries can come back to life but it will require a team who themselves are alive in Christ. The team must work together to bring revival, not revival for numbers sake but revival so God might receive the glory.

If you want to revive your youth ministry, you need a team who is alive, working together, won’t give up, has some fight in them and when that youth ministry does come back to life, they’ll look at each other, cry, rejoice, and look at each other with a knowing glint that God has done this and not we ourselves.

Getting close, on the eighth post in the series, Letting Parents Power Your Youth Ministry

Rethinking Your Youth Ministry Team



I can remember attending Youth Specialties NYWC and feeling like a failure. I looked around and saw these youth pastors who had  large teams of people with them. I had normally gone to YS alone because my volunteers couldn’t afford it or didn’t  have the flexible time to go. I was jealous of these teams. They all wore their youth ministry shirts and experienced something together that I had to experience alone. It was so high school.

I’d like to say that years after that experience I now drag 10 adults with me to a conference every year but I do not. I have worked in primarily smaller churches (under 500) and at most, have had 6-8 volunteers serve with me as their ministry in the church, which is fantastic. Some of you may wish you had at least one other person to help you reach and teach kids for Christ. If you are pining for a team, like I was, let me relieve you of some of the misconceptions of what a team is not:

It does not have to be made up of 20 somethings hipsters

It does not have to meet every week for training

It does not have  to wear the same shirt

It does not need to have a slogan or a name

It does not have to meet at the same time.

It does not have to be at every event.

It doesn’t even have to meet in person (on occasion)

A team is a collection of people who seek to accomplish a mission.

Here’s the good news: You get to define what kind of model of team works for your church and youth ministry and it does not have to fit any kind of expectations or trends.

So,  what mental steps should we take to expand our definition of team?

Step #1 Ditch the loner mentality

I remembers saying audibly and mentally, things like, “I’m the only person who can do this , cares about this, called to do this, etc” and it only continued to isolate me from creating that team I wanted. I had to face the fact that I could not accomplish what God wanted to do on my own.

Step 2: See everyone as part of the team

Everyone from the pastor to the janitor and everyone in between is on my team, they just don’t know it. Other ministries in the church are also on my team and I am on their team as well.  I see people in the church  as allies to accomplishing what God has put in my heart for this youth ministry. If we are can fend of the feelings of territoriality and competition among ministries and keep our team circle open versus  closed, we will be build out next level team much faster.

Step 3: Be flexible

Everyone on my team cannot be at every meeting, every event, etc. It is unreasonable of me to expect that of them. Instead, I have people in the church who do no not come to our monthly meetings but love to cook food, drive vehicles, go to concerts, etc. and it makes life much easier for my volunteers when I am not so hard and fast with them about being at everything.

My team is made up of all kinds of people.

There are Wednesday night people, Sunday morning people, special event people, camp people, outreach people and on and on it goes. Breaking the mold of what a team is and does  is a great first step to building  a next level team for your youth ministry.

Your Turn

What challenges do you face in building your youth ministry team?

Are they physical challenges or mental challenges or both?