Outreach Magazine’s Leadership Resource of the Year

Recipient of the InterVarsity Press’ Readers’ Choice Award




core features of the book-01

Two Minute Tips

Over 25 quick exercises you can do with your team to help your team thrive.

Team Discussion Questions

Walk through the book with your team using the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

Expert Commentaries

Each chapter concludes with insights from 1 of 13 highly-respected leaders in the church today.

Strong Church Research Foundation

Churches were studied according to industry-standard research protocol and extensive statistical analysis.

Biblical Grounding

One full chapter devoted to exploring Biblical foundations of shared leadership.

Real-Life Examples

Dozens of examples from churches of all shapes and sizes across the United States.

Teams Assessed

Total Survey Respondents

Observation and Interview Hours

Churches We Hope to Help


As someone passionate about teams, I strongly recommend Teams That Thrive. It draws out best practices and principles from hundreds of leadership teams, pulls together top marketplace research, and then illustrates them with stories from churches at every level. I encourage you not to simply read it yourself, but to read it and work through it with your team. It will make you better. It will help you thrive.

Larry Osborne

Author, Sticky Teams

At Saddleback we’ve shared leadership from the beginning.  While it’s not always been easy, it’s absolutely been worth it. This insightful book,with its strong research, real-life stories and practical how-to’s, makes it easier for you to build a strong, thriving senior leadership team.

Rick Warren

Pastor, Saddleback Church

This practical book is full of tips and tools that church leadership teams can use to become better and to increase in impact. Teams That Thrive will be a great help to my own team as we help church leadership teams get unstuck.

Tony Morgan

Founder, The Unstuck Group

I wish I had read this book at the beginning of my ministry career! Teams That Thrive is an incredible resource to help you and your team rethink how you lead. Packed with outstanding research, helpful tips, practical wisdom and thoughts from expert commentators, this book is the how-to resource you need to move your team (and your church) from simply surviving to thriving.

Jenni Catron

Author, Clout

Serious leaders are serious about their teams because something extraordinary happens when a team thrives, something much greater than the sum of its parts. Teams That Thrive is an unusual blend of spirit and practice. It is fresh, deep and eminently helpful!

Nancy Ortberg

Author, Looking for God

Church leaders talk big about the priesthood of all believers, but too many don’t know how to live that out on the leadership team level. This excellent book shows how.


Derwin Gray

Lead Pastor, Transformation Church

“We know that we’re supposed to like working in teams, but how many of us actually get excited when we hear the word teamwork? It isn’t that we hate working with others, it’s just that more often than not teams seem to make things harder, not easier. Fortunately, in Teams That Thrive, Ryan and Warren promise it doesn’t have to be that way. Read this book and start creating teams that work!

Greg Surratt

Founding Pastor, Seacoast Church

The daily life of running a church ministry is all about teams. How are they doing? Are they growing? How do we get new folks on teams? Teams That Thrive helps us to answer these questions with solid research, stories and examples, and to form and maintain great teams.

David Fletcher

Founder, XPastor

The most effective churches in America today have strong leaders who surround themselves with a smart team of leaders. Finally, a practical book on leadership that help churches develop the right kind of team to lead their church forward. This book is long overdue, greatly needed and high on my recommendation list.

Jim Tomberlin

Founder, MultiSite Solutions

about the authors-01

Ryan T. Hartwig, PhD

Ryan T. Hartwig, PhD, is chair of the Department of Communication Studies and associate professor of communication at Azusa Pacific University in Greater Los Angeles. Blending his teaching, research and leadership practice, Ryan has consulted with and trained thousands of leaders at numerous churches, universities, seminaries and nonprofit organizations, helping them develop thriving leadership and ministry teams, and design and cultivate collaborative organizations.

Ryan earned a PhD in communication from the University of Colorado Boulder. His scholarship has been published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Group Facilitation, and the International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, and recognized with several awards from the National Communication Association. Ryan has taught classes in group, organizational and leadership communication for more than a dozen years, and he has led, trained and developed teams for more than fifteen years in universities and churches.

An active lay leader in his church, Ryan journeys through life with his wife, Jill, and their four children. Learn more about Ryan.

Warren Bird, PhD

Warren Bird, PhD, is director of research and intellectual capital development for Leadership Network, a nonprofit that helps North America’s leading innovative church leaders leverage their ideas for greater influence and impact. An ordained minister, he has served as staff pastor for fifteen years, for most of which he also served as a teaching faculty member at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York.

Warren earned a PhD from Fordham University. He has authored or coauthored twenty-nine books, including How to Break Growth BarriersNext: Pastoral Succession that Works, Viral Churches, The Multi-Site Church Roadtrip and Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, as well as over two-hundred magazine articles and more than two dozen in-depth research reports. He is an award-winning writer and has been quoted by a wide variety of national media. He is among the nation’s leading experts on megachurches, multisite churches and current trends in greater church effectiveness.

Warren and his wife Michelle live just outside New York City, and have two grown children. Learn more about Warren.

Sub Headers White-01

FREE Resources To Help Your Team Thrive

research framework-01

In our research we collected some data on 253 churches. In 145 of those churches, at least 75% of the leadership team members completed both assessments we sent to them. The majority of churches were based in the United States. However, twenty-five churches outside of the United States signed up for the original assessment, collectively representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, England, Panama, Phillipines, and South Africa. A variety of evangelical denominations were represented, including Foursquare, Friends, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Pentecostal traditions, as well non-denominational and inter-denominational churches.

We visited 6 of the top-ranked churches, spending at least a full day, and in most cases two days, with them to dig deep into how their teams operated.  During those visits, we interviewed (nearly) all of the leadership team members, as well as high-capacity volunteers and elders or board members to get their vantage point into the leadership teams.

In addition, we conducted several focus groups and interviews with leadership team members at dozens of different churches, learning about their team practices.

  1. We used the Team Diagnostic Survey (TDS), one of the leading team assessments on the market, and the one used to generate the data for the leading marketplace book on Senior Leadership Teams, to generate a valid and reliable measure of team performance, and created a Team Communication Questionnaire (TCQ) to ask about team composition, communication practices, and contextual influences.
  2. Once we collapsed the individual-level data to group-level data for both surveys by identifying the mean of the individual scores for continuous variables and the mode for nominal variables, the data was analyzed by the bootstrap forest approach to identify the factors that most affected team performance variables.
  3. Then, we grouped similar kinds of variables together (such as those related to team decision-making or team structure), and completed a decision tree analysis, to identify the factors in each area that best explained variance in team performance.
  4. After that, we grouped churches together in performance bands, identifying those in the top quartile and those in the bottom quartile.  We compared means of those groups on several variables, noting key differences between the top churches and the underperforming churches in the data set.
  5. Finally, we profiled the teams scoring in the top 10%, looking for normative data on how those teams are composed and what they do.

All of this was accomplished through the expert assistance of two statistical consultants, one who assisted in survey design, and the other who assisted in analysis.  Both of them are outstanding research methodologists.

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