This past week I was sharing a meal with our newest staff member, Jason, when he posed a question I had never heard before: “What are the rules here?” I was intrigued and really engaged not only in trying to get him a suitable answer that was honest and true all the while thoroughly enjoying the questions behind the question.


Jason is new to our team and comes out of a very different tradition than myself. What Jason and I have in common is that we have both served for many years in full time ministry and have “seen it all” so to speak. We’ve signed the “No drinking, no R-rated movies” clause; committed to never take a Sunday off and even taken our turn cleaning to pastor’s personal bathroom a time or two. So imagine Jason’s surprise when he joined our staff team and many of these traditional expectations were absent. Make no mistake, we have our shortcomings and have made mistakes as a staff, but we try very hard to work as a team and keep the bureaucracy, rules, policies and politics to a minimum.



Jason’s question was a valid one and worthy of some discussion. If for no other reason, I figured it would afford me an opportunity to observe what our REAL values are as a team…beyond all the well-intentioned Garbely-guck we post on a “Values Page” somewhere. So yesterday in staff meeting I gave each person a stack of sticky notes and put it to them. “One rule per sticky, write down as many staff team rules as you can think of…”


In essence, what behaviors, attitudes or comments will get you in trouble as a staff member here?


The rules that came out were fascinating and a few were very entertaining…

photo–Don’t steal people from other churches.

–If you have vision/passion for a new effort or ministry you will likely be asked to be its leader.

–No churchy or spiritual cliches.

–No crappy, half-baked efforts.

–Read & respond to emails in a timely fashion.

–Take your work seriously, but not yourself.

–Never, I mean NEVER, get a massage next door (seriously).



In his masterwork, Five Dysfunctions of Team, Patrick Lencioni describes one of the keys to a healthy team is creating, maintaining and reinforcing clarity. Discussing, even jokingly, the unspoken rules of your team will definitely lead to greater clarity about expectations and it might even help you find out which values are sticking and which need some more work.

stuJen2011To read more of Stu’s Leading Thoughts click here.