Leading your team during the lockdown

Empty churches, kids clubs silenced, no dancing or jumping around, no dressing up, no chaotic games fun or laughter, no craft mess, no nose-wiping and certainly no toilet duty. Who’d have thought we’d be in this position at the start of September.

Nobody saw the world shutting down and everything put on hold for a virus. Yet this isn’t a shock to God, nothing surprises him, but rather He requires us as leaders to be adaptable and mouldable like PlayDoh.

But how do we lead teams in lockdown effectively?

God gives us a real-life example in the apostle Paul who was quite effective in leading the church in periods of house arrest and even in times of imprisonment. He used the means he had at his disposal to communicate what God led on his heart to teach, encourage and develop ministries throughout the world.

Although our means of communication have changed the principles remain the same. So what can we do to lead our teams in this lockdown period?

Here I believe are four simple and practical areas in which we can maximise our leading model.


1. Talking

This is the one of most common sense. Talking is a natural part of the relationship within our teams. It’s so vitally important that we do this with our team on a one to one. If we are to lead like Jesus then the conversation should be a natural part of the compassion that we have for our team. Their physical and mental wellbeing is part of our heart for our team.

Exodus 34:6-7 is the only place where God in the Old Testament describes who He is and He leads with compassion. If we are to model our leadership on Him then we need to put compassion for our team first.

So what does this look like practically?

  • Telephone calls
    We tend to rely on messaging on different digital platforms but nothing says more that you care than taking to time to say, “Hello! How are you?”

    This takes more effort than you would imagine. We as leaders need to set time aside within our busyness, even in lockdown, to schedule one to one team phone calls, but I believe that the benefit of our time sacrifice will be one we will reap in the days of ministry that lie ahead of us when this is all over.

    It’s a popular saying and one I have proved time and time again, “People will not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” Be a team leader that leads with compassion for their team members.
  • Group Messages
    Group texts and WhatsApp Group messaging is a great way to stay connected, but more on a group dynamic. It’s a great way to use media to encourage each other. It’s also a great way to stay connected with any prayer requests your team may have and a great way to bring light-hearted humour into the group. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine.
  • Digital Chat Platforms
    Three that I’m aware of is Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams and I’m sure that’s not them all, but these platforms are a great way to spend time fellowshipping with each other. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is
    Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

    Face to face is a wonderful way to show others how much you care and from a team perspective an opportunity to connect afresh with each other in an otherwise isolated environment within lockdown. I have found it’s an incredible place to connect and intercede for each other in prayer, bearing each other's burdens and just chatting and connecting, in fun and serious ways, sharing with each other what’s been going on and even how you can be interceding for each other until you meet again.

2. Teaching

With virtual church becoming the norm it’s a great way to give your team opportunities to teach and contribute in so many different practical ways. As a team leader, you should know what your team is capable of and what your team might be willing to attempt.

It’s so practical that most of the digital programs are made up of small clips and segments joined into one cohesive session. Therefore offering your team all types of opportunities to continue to teach and grow within the ministry they’re involved in.

As leaders, we should give our even most inexperienced of team members mustard seeds of opportunity to show what God is doing within them.

It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches. Matthew 13:32

This may well be the very platform, especially for our younger leaders, where they will excel far beyond our expectations but, if we never give them an opportunity we will never know.


3. Training

Carrying on from the last point these are great training moments within team. Digital means that any pre-recorded segments to our program can be redone or edited so some of the pressure of performing in front of your whole team and kids is removed. This may well be your opportunity to see how far your team can go. Seeing how they deal with the smaller tasks and maybe leading to bigger tasks. This is not the only way to equip your leaders in lockdown though.

  • What are your team reading?
    When was the last time you discussed with your team about what they are reading? In times like these we have more opportunities afforded to us to take time to read but what are we reading?

    It’s another well-known saying that 'leaders are readers'. If we want to grow or we want our team to grow find out what they are reading. Are they reading the right books that will help them develop within kids’ ministry? Maybe give them some examples of books that you have read that have impacted you or even provide some material for them.
  • What website and articles can you connect your team with?
    Another way to help your team to grow and develop is using email and group message to send them links to impacting articles on Kids’ Ministry. There are so many good websites containing articles that will make them think and behave differently. Giving them insights into other kids ministry leaders struggles and how they get through them. Knowledge and wisdom is a great way to help your team develop. I know it sounds simple but some of the greatest growth moments are.
  • Team members leading devotions
    Lastly in this section is something that I personally think is a great help in the development of your team. When you meet together on digital platforms, as a team, ask someone different, each time, within your team dynamic to bring a simple devotional thought of encouragement, providing they are comfortable to do it. This again may sound simple but hear me out.

    In doing this with your team you are helping your team to communicate in appropriate ways with each other. You are teaching and training them on how important encouragement is. Your team will maybe see a different side to the individual and you’re also training them how to talk to leaders, study the bible for purpose and encourage leaders because one day they may well be the leader that replaces you.

    Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. Proverbs 18:15

    It’s our job as leaders to give our team opportunities even in lockdown to express themselves and for us also to draw out, where we can, the talents and skills that God has blessed them with.

4. Trusting

As a leader myself this I’ve found is the hardest of all to do especially in lockdown but it’s also the place where I am being challenged as a leader the most. At times I’m a control freak about programming, who’s doing what, is it done yet and all the other things that go along with putting together online weekly sessions. But as a leader, I have to exercise trust in my team that they will do what they have agreed to do.

Yes, it’s ok as deadlines approach request jobs to be sent but trust that your team has produced the best job they can. Our job is not to strive for perfection and how we compare against other more polished ministries out there, but rather our job is to make sure our team gives their best, and we acknowledge their efforts in an accepting and encouraging way so we will always be trying to bring the best out in our team.

God doesn’t require perfection because He is perfect but rather He can use our imperfection to impact generations and nations. We need to always remember that this is His work, His team and we are just stewards of that which belongs to Him.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12: 9

In conclusion, just like the apostle Paul use, every means you can to talk and communicate with your team. Make sure everyone knows you care and everything they do has a kingdom worth that God can use for His glory. These may be unprecedented times, but they are also times of great opportunity. It’s my prayer that as you lead your team, you lead them from glory to glory as we serve our God bringing the good news of Jesus into homes and communities across our nation, so God can use our best efforts to extend His Kingdom through the salvation of souls.

About the author

Ian Harland, has been involved in kids ministry for over 25 years, in various forms, and is the current Director of Kids Ministry throughout Elim in Ireland. He also heads up primary schools ministry and the work with community kids on a weekly basis for his local church. His heart and passion is to see kids encounter the love and keeping power of Jesus Christ, and that every volunteer, in kids’ ministry, truly understands their value in working with kids and to see each volunteer empowered and developed to reach their full potential as they serve kids and use their gifts to impact and encourage others to do the same.

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