The most effective teams work well in three different modes: they pray, play, and plan.
Spend time praying and worshipping together. Doing so puts relationships on a spiritual plane rather than a merely human one. Praying together builds closeness and helps establish the vision. It allows team members to connect with both God and each other. Try practicing listening prayer, times of silence, and debriefing of what each person is hearing from God. Rather than just perfunctory prayer to open or close meetings, create space for extended prayer times for your team.
Adults are children in big bodies—if things aren’t fun, they’re hard. Engage your team with a spirit of playfulness. Taking some time for fun periodically is a good thing. That can be a game or fun outing or a more relational time of sharing personal stories and hopes. The best teams know how to have fun together. The time isn’t time wasted, but rather the relational foundation of trust on which productive forward movement can be built.
With a foundation of prayer and play, we are freed up to move forward in productivity, problem-solving, and prioritizing what needs to be focused on. A planning meeting is focused on thought that leads to an outcome. Set a clear agenda by asking at the beginning of planning time, “What do we need to accomplish here by noon?” You can also help people come prepared for planning meetings by asking them to pre-think a question, read a short article, or bring in a verse that they sense may apply to the topic at hand. When people know they may be expected to share their observations or process questions with others, they tend to come much more prepared with their contribution.
All teams and people tend to have their favorites. Some focus on planning to the near exclusion of praying and playing. Others may spend so much time on play that they have no time for planning. The best teams will have a blend. This doesn’t necessarily mean equal amounts of each of the three areas, but a balance that includes enough of each to accomplish the purposes of that particular team. So remember: pray, play, and plan.