Strong Teams: 3 Reasons Why USA Curling Team IS a Strong Team


So last week I wrote about how the USA Figure Skating team was not a Strong Team. I wasn’t trying to sound negative or suggest winning the bronze medal in that event wasn’t a great accomplishment, just that by them winning an event that’s the compilation of scores of several individual events does not a strong team make.

HOWEVER, this morning when I had my 5:00 am wake up I remembered the Men’s Curling Semifinal event was going to be on, so I ended up forgoing my normal morning routine and turning on the television to watch.

First of all, THEY WON! This is a big deal as they beat Canada, widely considered the best squad in the world, and this victory assures the US of their first Olympic medal since 2006.

In watching the match, I felt like I was watching a seminar on “How To Have a Strong Team” because there were five specific qualities I witnessed while watching this team.

Great Communication.
Curling teams are ALWAYS communicating. Sometimes softly, sometimes screaming, but you rarely hear silence. They talk and strategize before each shot, and while the other team is shooting. They evaluate their previous shot and discuss how to course correct.

What’s great is how before each shot, team Skipper, John Shuster listens to each of the other teammates to hear their opinion on what they should do next. He then evaluates the options and chooses which way is best. Sometimes, he completely defers to the rest of the team, often though he makes the decision himself. When he does, the rest of the team seems to know they’ve been heard, but “Skip” is the one in charge and they trust him to do what he sees as best.

Strong Teams in churches communicate well and often. Leaders invite input from the rest of the team and then make the call. They evaluate where they’ve been and discuss options moving forward. Great team members trust the pastor to make the right call, even when they disagree.

Specialized & General Roles.
Each member of the curling team plays a unique role, but each also has a bit of overlap. Outside of the Skipper, it may seem like the other three guys do the same thing, but they don’t. If you watch close enough you’ll find that each person is specialized to perform specific actions in specific situations yet, despite this, they also support each other in the overall mission of the team.

One of my biggest pet peeves in church leadership is the “It’s not my job” guy. The one who leads a specific ministry yet complains or disappears when they are asked to help with tasks outside of their official job description. I once had a leader on my team that would always have a meeting he just couldn’t get out of whenever we needed to help another ministry out with set up for an event. Even if we asked 3-4 weeks in advance for him to adjust his schedule in order to help, it “just couldn’t be moved.”

Strong Teams don’t have space for the “It’s not my job” guy. They have specialized roles and responsibilities, yet they roll their sleeves up to help the entire team or other team members in times of need.

They Have Thick Skin.
There’s a lot of yelling in curling, so if you’re going to be a successful curler you have to get used to that. You get yelled at, and you get to yell at others. If your skin is too thin to handle this, then you won’t make it very far in the curling world.

What I noticed about these team members is that no one seemed to be offended when Shuster directed them to do something. He’s barking orders on international television and they seem ok with it. No one is embarrassed or arguing back to save face.

What’s also cool is Shuster doesn’t seem fazed when someone questions his decision or suggests another route. I refer to this earlier, but millions of people around the world are watching and he doesn’t seem to mind that his decisions as a leader are being challenged.

I’m not suggesting there should be yelling at one another on church teams, but a Strong Team member doesn’t get their feeling hurt when another person dares to suggest they may not be perfect. This is why Strong Teams need to be made up of Vibrant Leaders, because they are healthy and secure enough in themselves and their identities in Christ, that they realize they’re not perfect. They are more concerned about accomplishing the mission of the church than protecting their ego.

This goes double for senior leaders. To lead a Strong Team means you recognize that being challenged doesn’t mean being cut down and disagreement doesn’t mean dissension.

I was also really impressed with how this team had the confidence to take risks when they sensed momentum, but maybe I’ll talk about that in an upcoming podcast. (

The bottom line is EVERY church that wants to consistently impact people’s lives for Jesus MUST have a Strong Team. If you’re not sure if your team is strong or not, we need to talk. Email me today at

About the author, Chris

I am the founder of BreakThru Churches, a community of Christ followers who are committed to helping leaders and churches achieve their WHY. I believe every person and ministry has a unique mission (their WHY) and my WHY is to help others achieve that.

I have served churches in Colorado, Maryland, and Tennessee, for more than 20 years as a pastor, leader, educator, and coach. My biggest WHYs are to embrace that I am restored child of God, and to be the best husband I can be to my wife, Kyrie, and our 3 kiddos, and serve the leaders of churches.

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