Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Is The Remote Mindset Killing Your Team?

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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?





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