We’ve all seen examples of what’s commonly known as “the silo effect:” The music ministry thinking only about their productions without reference to how that connects to the overall ministry of the church. The youth pastor deciding that the main goals are more kids attending youth group, without reference to how their families or parents are connecting with the church and with discipleship. They may have language or goals for their own ministry area, but don’t see how it connects to other areas.
One of the most important ways to resist this natural impulse to put our own ministry area over and against others is to agree on a unified direction with the rest of the team so that each member of the team embraces the overall objectives. For example, an overall objective might be “making disciples”—that’s something every single ministry area can focus on, but may just come at it from a different angle. But a bigger picture goal like “making disciples” provides easier ways to connect one ministry to another in everyone’s minds.
The music team might partner with the youth group to mentor teen musicians. The youth pastor might work with the Christian education ministry to create a class for parents on how to engage their teens in discipleship. The possibilities for connection and cross-pollination are endless and serve to strengthen the church and its mission as a whole.
How do you assess shared vision and goals? Language is important. Are you hearing, “These are our goals?” or “These are my/your goals?” When a shared vision and goals are embraced, everyone can see how their particular piece contributes to the overall shared vision. When you start seeing people making those connections, and when you start hearing “our” more than “my” or “your,” affirm that.
Shared goals and ownership also allow for a shared burden when ministry feels difficult. It’s like Moses holding up his staff during battle and needing help with the load. On a healthy team, members not only focus on their own responsibilities but they also look to see how they can help others. If the music person talks with the youth group leader and unpacks their vision, you can ask the question, “How can I be helpful?” One effective way to break out of the silo is simply by showing interest in another person’s ministry area… to take the time to find out what their vision is, what their hopes are, and how you might be able to be helpful in that. Those conversations helps team members connect in ways that are meaningful. Start the dialogue of sharing your visions with one another and find out how what you’re doing can contribute to others’ ministries. There might be more points of connection than you expect.