January 2016
‘Reboot’ Your Vestry

Why Team Building Matters

Have you ever been a part of a group or leadership team that hummed right along? Do you remember what made it that way? Was it how members encouraged each other or how the group understood and felt passionate about its mission? Perhaps everyone didn’t always agree, but there was a mutual respect for each other’s opinions.

How do you as a church leader bring together individuals with their own ideas and talents to form a cohesive group that can accomplish great things? This is a challenge often faced by church leadership and vestries.

What does a group need to be strong and successful? Effective communication, collaboration, and trust may be considered some of the most important attributes of a productive working group. This is true whether the group is in the workplace, church, or volunteer organization.
These strengths can be cultivated when you make a conscious effort to incorporate team building in your regular meetings. Even better, consider going on an off-site retreat with facilitated team building activities.


The underpinning of a unified team can be an authentic leader with a forward-thinking vision who values the team members. Are you a new leader and want to knock it out of the park with your group from the beginning? Take a look at these tips for new leaders.

Getting to Know You

New groups, which include existing groups that welcome a new member, can benefit from taking the time to become better acquainted before leaping into the work at hand. Incorporating team building exercises at the beginning of your first meeting or as the focus of your retreat may help members have a better understanding of each other and feel more connected to one another. These relationships can enrich the experience of working together later down the road.

Stages of a Team

From the early phase of forming to running like a well-oiled machine, a group develops in stages. It’s important to be aware of these different phases as you lead your team to success.

Make the Most of the Moment

With everyone’s time at a premium, how you can make the most of your time together, even during coffee breaks? Try a few of these tips on how to optimize the time spent at your group’s next gathering.

Keep the Spark Alive

Preserving the energy of a newly formed group can be a challenge, especially during long meetings. Try some of these methods for keeping the momentum going.

Long-lasting Value of Strong Teams

A winning team can attract new, enthusiastic individuals who are eager to join in, which in turn may form an even stronger collective. The word may spread within your church community about how well the group operates and others may be more likely to accept an invitation to join the vestry in the future.

Learn more about building strong teams and how to sustain successful church leadership at the 2016 Church Leadership Conference presented by the Episcopal Church Foundation and Kanuga, February 19–21, 2016.

Try This

During the first months of the year many vestries hold elections for new vestry members and officers. Whenever a new member joins a group – or an old member rotates off – the group changes. And, even though all of the members may feel they ‘know each other’ because the belong to the same church, it’s still important for the health and effectiveness of the group to take time to get to know each other better. Incorporating team building exercises at the beginning of your first meeting may help group members have a better understanding of each other and feel more connected to one another.
Consider these icebreaker activities:

Leslie Hartley is the communications writer for Kanuga Conference & Retreat Center in Hendersonville, NC. Affiliated with The Episcopal Church since 1928, Kanuga is a 1,400-acre conference, retreat, and camp center serving more than 25,000 guests annually.


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This article is part of the January 2016 Vestry Papers issue on ‘Reboot’ Your Vestry