If you have been a part of a church for long, chances are you’ve been served by or served on a care team. Care teams are the duct tape of church ministry; we put a care team on anything that is broken. At times, that is a beautiful expression of one another ministry. Other times, it can be a well-intended, confusing mess that inadvertently results in hurt feelings and strained relationships.

That is the goal of this brief series on care teamsto provide clarity on key facets of care teams so that the good faith effort of fellow church members doesn’t result in hurt feelings and strained relationships.

A key premise of this series on care teams is that we need to recognize that care teams are created for different types of situations. Too often we treat care teams like they are one size fits all. They are not. When we (church leaders) do not understand the different kind of situations for which a care team is created, and recruit-prepare members of these teams accordingly, we unintentionally set these teams up to fail.

For the purposes of this series, we will differentiate four types of care teams.

  1. The Basic Care Team
  2. The Crisis Care Team
  3. The Crisis Care Team with Resistance
  4. The Enabling Care Team

A basic care team is for short-term, service-oriented needs emanating from common life experiences.

A crisis care team is for more complex situations which are less common and more severe.

A crisis care team with resistance is the most complex because the crisis is perpetuated and enhanced via the unruly behavior by one or more people receiving care.

The enabling care team reflection will examine qualities of a care team that can emerge, with the best of intentions, that need to be avoided for the flourishing of the person receiving care and the thriving of the people on the care team.

We need to recognize that care teams are created for different types of situations. Care teams are not one size fits all. When church leaders do not understand the different kinds of care teams , we unintentionally set these teams up… Click To Tweet

As you begin this series, you need to be asking yourself questions like:

  • What is kind of scenarios would fit into each of these categories?
  • What are the indicators that a situation is advancing from one level to another?
  • Who should (and should not) be on each type of care team?
  • Who gets to decide who is on a care team?
  • What level of pastoral supervision should be provided to each type of care team?
  • What type of external advisement (non-pastoral guidance) may be needed?
  • How should the role of each type of care team be communicated to its members?

Before we begin differentiating various types of care teams, let’s remember what all care teams have in common. There are five qualities true of all care teams. Care teams are…

  1. Peer-Based: Care teams are non-professional. They are friends helping friends. This means the guidance for honoring each other’s personal information is to avoid gossiping rather than adherence to a code of confidentiality.
  2. Voluntary: Both sides of the relationship are voluntary. The care recipient agrees to who is on their team and the care givers agree to be on the team. No one is arbitrarily assigned.
  3. Supportive: A care team is not an advisory group. Their role is to support the individual receiving care, so he/she has the capacity to implement the counsel of others (if needed).
  4. Short-Term: A care team is not a small group. Small groups are ongoing relationships. When the distress that prompts the formation of a care team is chronic (meaning no definite end is in site), the duration of the care team should be established early on.
  5. PastorallySupervised: A care team is an extension of the church’s care, therefore, a care team should have a pastor or elder they report to. The more severe the care need, the more frequent and involved this pastoral supervision becomes.

As we look at the various types of care teams that exist, we will reflect further on the implication of these five qualities of a care team.

This article is the first in a 5-part series devoted to: “Creating Effective Care Teams: Maximizing the Benefits & Minimizing the Misunderstandings When Mobilizing Peer-Based Care Teams.”