For me it did not seem an unusual thing to do. In fact, it seemed normal, natural. I was not trying to curry any favor with anyone, was not looking for any commendation. But early on in a new pastorate that included a team ministry, I prayed one Sunday morning for a few of my ministry colleagues. I mentioned my co-pastor, gave thanks to God for him and for his tireless ministry of calling on the sick and the homebound. I mentioned our church custodian by name, gave thanks for him and the thousands of little and unseen things he did to make our church run effectively.
Later I was told by the people sitting with my co-pastor that he burst into quiet tears. My predecessor apparently never prayed for the ministry team like that. The custodian came up to me in person the following week and with what I thought looked like a small tear in the corner of one of his eyes he said “I have been working here for twenty-three years — that was the first time I ever got prayed for. Thank you!”
Such a simple thing to do, really: pray for one another and do so by name and with words that show a level of specific awareness of what other people did in the church. Yet that turned out to be not a simple thing at all but a seriously needed and much-appreciated gesture. I would have done so anyway but it goes without saying that after garnering these moving reactions from my colleagues, I for sure continued such prayers in worship services. Unsurprisingly, it also generated good momentum as they prayed also for me and for one another when they were leading in worship. Elders and Deacons in their meetings caught this vision, too, and likewise widened the scope of their prayers for one another, for church volunteers, for choir directors, and the custodian.
There are doubtless many “secrets” and tips for building a successful ministry team, and some of them are very clever and may seem to come from “out of the box” thinking. But many of the things that build a team are from among the simplest, everyday things we can do for one another. Like praying for each other. By name. Paying attention to what each does, so it too can be singled out specifically in prayers. It is a simple thing to do but its effect is lovely.