Last month, Feed the Need Missions welcomed Sean Tangen as our new Program Director. Sean’s overwhelming drive is for people to find and serve in their purpose. With 29 years of vocational, leadership and volunteer ministry experience, we know he will be an incredible asset to our mission. Recently, we sat down with Sean to get a sense of his vision as he dives into his new position here. Check out the inspirational events that led him to our team.

Q: How did you discover Feed the Need Missions?

A: Four years ago, we served as a family on a missions trip in the dumps of Tijuana. That adventure jumpstarted my search for how to live a missional life. For two years I prayed for the Lord to direct our family in how to live that trust-filled life while sharing His hope as a family. I came across a video of Feed the Need Missions late one night in my prayer and research. In that video, I witnessed someone share the impact the mission had in their life. It wasn’t about the burger, it was about the relationship! It was so obvious that he found it in the Feed the Need Missions community. His story was not unlike so many others all around us. People hungry to discover their belonging and purpose. It was then I knew I had to get involved.

Q: Tell us about your previous work/ministry experience.

A: It is said, “Do what you love and you will never work a day of your life.” That has never been more true for me. I have always had a heart to serve others. It began when someone took time to invest in me at 15 years old when no one else would. During that time of mentorship, I learned the value of Scripture. I committed to live out 1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us!” That has led me to some of the greatest “jobs” you could hope for.

I have worked/volunteered with various ministries for almost 30 years. Most recently I worked for a ministry called Young Life. I served as an Area Director in four communities in three states over 20 years. I have also served as Program Director in a ministry focused on kids in the juvenile justice system. I have owned two businesses, helped start four others and currently help coach other non-profits in various ways.

Q: Tell us about you – your family, things you enjoy.

A: I have been married to my high school love, Erin, for 25 years. We have served together in life and ministry and believe that has been God’s plan for us since the beginning of our relationship. He has always showed us how to love each other well. This has be the catalyst in every aspect of our lives. 

I have two exceptional kids. Shayla is 15 and Asher is 13. Shayla is an incredible artist and writer. Her compassion for others is rarely seen in teens today. She has a heart for those in need and one day plans to “serve the least of these” through missions work. Asher is my son through and through. He loves being the center of attention and making people laugh. He also has an extremely sensitive side and goes out of his way to include everyone.

Q: Tell us what excites you about this new season.

A: I am so thankful that the Lord has led me and my family to Feed the Need Missions! The first part of my role is to help solidify and support the existing ministries that are currently happening. We have incredible volunteers that give so faithfully and I plan to support them in every way I can.

It is also part of my vision and role to grow Feed the Need Missions in 2022. We are looking to expand into three to six additional communities over my first year on staff, Lord willing. It is clear that this ministry can impact multitudes of people. I have seen a number of ministries with a similar design, but none have had the impact that Feed the Need Missions does regularly. I know firsthand the desire of wanting to be known. Feed the Need Missions offers that missing piece in our society today. I can’t wait to see what Jesus has in mind in the near future.

Tips for Building a Solid Team Dynamic

There’s an African proverb that sagely advises, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This is especially true of any Christ-centered endeavor, whether it’s a ministry team or a faith-based non-profit like Feed the Need Missions. There are times when some of us more ambitious and energetic types might believe it would be much easier to go it alone. But biblically, to be truly effective, we must embrace the pursuit of the “dream team.”

Paul the Apostle went to great lengths to educate the ancient Corinthian Church that while we are uniquely gifted, we are wholly interdependent—designed to work in tandem to achieve greatness. Maybe you’ve had the joy of working in a group in which all are individuals operating cooperatively in their zones of excellence, not for personal glory, but for God’s glory. But for most of us, that feels like an illusive myth.

The truth is, building an effective team, and operating as one, is not easy. Great teams don’t happen by chance or by luck. They are built on self awareness, intentionality, right placement and shared vision. If you’re ready to take your group of highly skilled individuals to the next level, know that the road might not be easy, but it will be worth it. If you’re looking for practical ways to develop your mission or ministry team, read on to discover a few tools we’ve discovered that can help you get there.

Prioritize Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are unique abilities imparted to Christ-followers by the Holy Spirit. These are action-based, and are, simply put, the task God has in mind for an individual—their spiritual work assignment. Several scripture passages including 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4 outline the many ways an individual may be equipped supernaturally for a particular ministry function in the body of believers.

One of the reasons spiritual gifts should be of paramount consideration on a ministry team is that it allows God the priority consideration. Placing a person on your team in a position to operate within their call and gifting will foster joy and fulfillment for that individual and great blessing to the team dynamic as they receive the fruit of it.

One thing to keep in mind is that, just as seasons change, so do spiritual gifts. These God-given abilities are given at the discretion of the Holy Spirit. They are not a person’s identity and it’s possible that over time they will change. It is important to evaluate these occasionally; in fact, they can be a helpful indicator of a need for role changes on a team.

Check out these free resources: Spiritual Gifts Test | Spiritual Gifts Explained

Understand Temperament

There’s a reason why so many corporations invest time and money to discover a potential employee’s temperament. Whether it’s enneagram numbers, animal types, the DISC or some other temperament questionnaire, ensuring a personality fits a particular team culture or a job assignment is extremely beneficial for a team’s success.

In general, these assessments give you an idea of how a person achieves the goals set before them. Some people are natural delegators or risk takers. Some crave routine, harmony and consistency. Others want to be given a detailed job and left alone, and still others love to work through problems socially.

Temperament assessments for a team bring self awareness, but they also help build sensitivity and reduce frustrations. As you share around the table, your team will discover new, viable options for solving problems. Seeing a lack of certain temperaments on your team can help you to recruit the best candidates as you expand. And hopefully, everyone will begin to appreciate the strengths others bring to the table. In short, each member will begin to understand their unique contribution while valuing those of others.

If you’re ready to dive in, try these online assessments: Myers Briggs Based 16 Personalities | DISC Personality Assessment | Working Genius (New!)

Focus Your Skills

Once you understand who’s on the team, and what they bring to the table, it’s important to align them to a singular vision. You can have the most skilled team in the world, but if they don’t have a clear understanding of where they’re going and how to get there, it’s going to be a real struggle to achieve success.

Does your organization have a strong mission statement? Creating a mission statement isn’t just about snappy marketing. It’s the driving force behind everything you do. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers an exceptional in-depth guide to how to create a group mission statement. Once you develop yours, every action and decision must be filtered through the question: Does it help us achieve our mission?

Other considerations for focusing the culture and activity of your team are creating clear values and definitions of success. These help the team understand not just the goal, but the preferred way of getting to it. The best teams celebrate staff and volunteers who embrace these and make it a point to revisit them regularly.

Find Your Place

Whatever your temperament or spiritual gifting, there is a team waiting to embrace you at Feed the Need Missions. An established 501(c)3 organization operating in nine rural communities across Texas, we’re always looking for potential site coordinators, volunteers, church partners, and corporate partners in cities across the U.S. to join our mission to feed people physically and spiritually. If you’re ready to step in to an organization that is well-equipped to activate you, we’d love to hear from you.