Three different types of mission teams

Part two of a series on teaming.   Part one looked at the question of whether every group of missionaries can be called a team.   This post was written a few years ago by one of our senior missionaries but we still refer to it regularly in our pre-field training about teaming.  

In missions, everyone wants to know if they will work on a team. SEND believes strongly that teams are a highly effective way to engage unreached people, but just as in sports, not all mission teams are alike.

Here are three kinds of mission teams you may find in SEND ministries:

The Basketball Team — BT

In basketball, five players work very closely together. They have to keep close tabs on each other, hand off the ball, watch each other’s backs, and get that ball down the court to the basket.

A “BT” SEND team works closely together and interacts constantly with each other about the goal. They probably live near each other and target the same people or the same neighborhood.

The Track Team – TT
A track team has a common goal but each individual runs alone. They may do relays where they hand off the baton from one to another, or they may run side by side jumping hurdles. Their goal is to take the prize, and everyone wins together.

A “TT” SEND team works side-by-side and each individual is somewhat independent. They have a common goal: evangelism and discipleship of least-reached people in their area. They gather for team meetings, but may minister more as individuals. In some cases, they work as a tag-team, with one team member engaging the unreached, another doing evangelism, another disciples new believers, and others establishing a reproducing church. Each is important to the team and everyone wins together.

Expedition Teams – X-TEAMS
X-Teams or Expedition Teams have at least two members, a guide and an explorer. Together they learn how to penetrate new areas or find creative ways to uncover new possibilities in places already explored. An X-team is small and nimble, takes calculated risks, and connects deeply with the local culture.

An “X-Team” in SEND is a SEND missionary and an international leader working closely together in ministry. Depending on the situation, the SEND missionary may be the guide or the explorer, but the bottom line is, it doesn’t matter who leads. X-team members understand that comfort and home are secondary in this an intense partnership for God’s glory. They know their goal – engaging the least-reached and establishing reproducing churches. Because they come from different backgrounds, it can be risky, but it’s exciting and everyone wins together.

from the SEND.org website


Katzenbach and Smith have given a definition of a team that has been used by our mission’s policy manual to define teams:

“A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable.” (The Wisdom of Teams, Katzenbach and Smith, 1993)

What do you think?  Do all three types of teams fit this definition of a team?

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