I don’t know a lot about cars, but I know enough that when my car starts to drift to one side or even pull in a certain direction, I have a problem. So, I decided to take it to a mechanic, and he was happy to confirm, (with money signs in his eyes), that I had an alignment issue. But unfortunately, because I waited too long it has caused other issues that I now have to address and pay for.
The same is true with our churches and the teams that we lead. When we start to see a drift or start feeling a pull towards something other than the mission and goal of reproducing mature disciple makers, we have an alignment issue. And when we wait too long to address it, it will almost always cost us more.
Misalignment creates confusion, frustration, and disunity. While alignment brings focused clarity, passionate collaboration, and strong unity. Which outcome do you want?
We see Jesus throughout the gospels having to bring the disciples back into alignment, because they had a different agenda for the Messiah. They, at times, grew frustrated because they were imposing their own expectations on Jesus to get rid of the Romans and set up His Kingdom now. And we see Jesus, not cave to other people’s expectations, but stay focused on the mission of the Father and keep communicating it to His disciples and others. While also inviting them to participate in it.
However, the misalignment in the disciples would cost Jesus greatly. Do you remember when Jesus was at Simon, the Leper’s house in Matthew 26? A woman poured out expensive perfume on the head of Jesus, and the disciples were angry. Why would they be angry? Why didn’t they see this as a beautiful act of kindness?
Because they were not aligned yet with the Kingdom agenda of Jesus. And in v. 14, the misalignment led to betrayal.
 Then one of the Twelve–the one called Judas Iscariot–went to the chief priests  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So, they counted out for him thirty silver coins.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14-16
Obviously, not all misalignment leads to death, but it will lead to unhealth, which can be just as devastating. So, what can we intentionally do to align our teams?
This graphic and all the questions were incredibly beneficial for me as I was trying to lead a whole church in making the shift. We needed to align Organizationally, Philosophically, Theologically and Relationally, in order to hit the target of Reproducing Mature disciple makers.
Are you aligned on your Elder Board, Staff, Small Group Leaders, and ministry leadership teams?
- Prioritize bringing alignment around Relational Vulnerability and Trust
One of the first books that I take each staff that I lead through is Patrick Lencioni’s ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team.’ It’s a great book to help facilitate really important conversations around inattention to team objectives, avoidance of team accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, and an absence of trust.
As the intentional leader, we must be aware that these five areas will destroy team alignment and health. We must be clear what the expectation is and then model it through our own vulnerability. If you choose to ignore the warning signs, just like with your car, it will cost you more down the road.
Share vulnerably your personal story. Invite each staff person to do the same. Practice listening, staying curious, and offering comfort to those who are in pain. Resist the urge to fix or lighten the moment through sarcasm. Be diligent to create a relationally safe environment that will allow your team to build trust with one another.
I was going to give you a third area to align around, which is a clear and compelling mission and core values. However, even though I feel that has tremendous value, I want to point out some clear warning signs that if you ignore will cost you dearly.
Please pay close attention to grumbling, selfishness, exhaustion that leads to drift, isolation of teammates, not going the extra mile to get things done, thinking like an employee and not an owner, putting off dealing with conflict in their ministry or with other staff, spiritually and personally lazy, overly critical and lacking grace, as well as not taking personal ownership for their mistakes or dropped balls. These are just a few warning signs that you should pay special attention to that will erode trust and misalign your team.
I still don’t know a lot about cars, but after going through enough pain having to fix these problems, I am much more aware of the warning signs and more diligent to handle these issues when they arise and not waiting until they cost me and everyone else more later.
by Bob Reed – Senior Pastor