With more to do than time in the week, it’s imperative to build strong teams that can serve the congregation and community more effectively. Whether a team consists of staff, volunteers, or a combination, each individual needs to know what you expect. A fundamental way to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of any team is by clarifying expectations.

Consider this: If team members are unclear about what they’re responsible for, they’ll do one of two things. They’ll either assume they don’t have responsibility for areas you intended them to own, or they’ll take over too many things and impose on someone else’s authority.

A lack of clarity can cause misunderstandings and frustration between team members and between you and your team. You may have one idea of what success looks like, and they have a different viewpoint. While they might be willing and able to meet your expectations, they’ll have a hard time doing so if they don’t know what you want.

Here are three key reasons to clarify roles and responsibilities for your team:

No. 1: Clear expectations inspire

  • What’s the vision of your church leadership?
  • Where are you headed as a congregation?
  • How does each staff member contribute to achieving that goal?

Knowing the answers to these questions can motivate people as they see how their efforts contribute to the vision. Whether someone is cleaning between services, teaching children, creating sermon graphics, or checking in volunteers, each person's efforts can significantly support the church's vision. They may not realize that on their own, so you may need to help them see it.

No. 2: Defined roles provide boundaries

Do you have an ambitious, driven team member who means well but keeps going a bit too far? If you’ve never clearly defined the role and communicated that to her, she may not know why you think she’s off-track.

She might even feel overworked but doesn’t realize she’s taking on more tasks than you ever intended. When you define the role, get her feedback, and settle in on boundaries, that will reduce the stress and strain on both parties.

No. 3: Documented expectations reveal the desired outcome

Does each team member understand what success looks like for his role? Are your team members ever surprised during a performance evaluation? If a team member doesn’t know what you expect, it’s difficult for him to meet (or exceed) those expectations.

Provide documented expectations in a job description to new employees. Review that document with each individual and confirm he understands each item. If a team member fails to meet an expectation, tell him as soon as possible. This may reveal that he didn’t fully understand or that he made a mistake. Whatever the case, he can correct the issue quickly if you point out the error right away.

Developing, documenting, and communicating role expectations may not be your favorite ministry tasks. However, it is part of any leader’s responsibility to make sure the team knows what their leader expects and how they can contribute to the vision. Set your team and your church up to win by clearly communicating expectations. This effort can reduce tension, increase productivity, and bring a greater sense of purpose to your team.