I’ve noticed something. Silos are back. I think it’s a side effect of the COVID shutdowns and working remotely.

During COVID, all our teams did a great job working independently to continue ministry. But now, in many ways, we are functioning in silos again. I wonder if you are experiencing the same at your church. 

How do we get back to working together effectively and efficiently? I think it takes effort and vigilance. Also, I think it is totally worth the fight.  

In this post, let’s look at four strategies that can help break down silos.  


Unified Mission

Our executive pastor is known for his mantras. During a season where we struggled badly with silos, he repeated a phrase over and over. It went like this:  

One team. One plan.

And what is that plan? It’s our mission: To lead people into a relationship with Jesus Christ that transforms them into Christ-likeness. That’s our mission. That’s our plan. No matter what ministry you are a part of, we are all part of one team, and the plan is to work toward this mission. 

Don’t underestimate the value of over-communicating the “plan” with all your teams. There is a unifying power that comes with clarity around mission. I believe that keeping your mission in front of all your teams is critical to breaking down silos.  

 

Church Culture Over Team Culture

Here’s a statement I’ve heard a lot from church leaders over the years: 

I love my ministry but I don’t love the church I’m working at.  

This attitude fuels the silo mentality. How do you fight this? Culture is key.

What are your values? Your values define your culture—how you function together as a staff team and as a church. Here are our operational values:

  • Generosity—Gracious and generous, like our Father
  • Relationships—people first
  • Clarity—simple and clear communication and systems
  • Hospitality—always having the outsider in mind
  • Integrity—doing what we say we will do

These values are central to who we are. We include them in performance reviews and we screen for them when we hire. And, whether you are a part of the worship team, children’s ministry team, or facilities team…the values are the same.

Again, these values are unifying. A guest should have roughly the same experience in any one of our ministries. These unifying values help break down silos.

 

Silo Field Trips

Perhaps the most effective way to fight silos is building relationship.

A while ago, I realized that one of my teams wasn’t exactly playing nice with other departments in our church. There was a lot of complaining and “those people” type of comments.  

So, what we decided to do was go on a field trip to every other department. We came to them with coffee and baked goods and asked them a series of questions:  

  • What is one thing you wish every other ministry understood about what you do?
  • What are some things that we do that create stress for you and your team?  
  • What is one thing you are really excited about right now? 
  • What could we do to make your lives easier?  

These field trips helped build relationships and trust. We came to see how we were accidentally creating stress. We also gained a better understanding of the heart behind each of the other ministries in our church.

If you want to fight the silo mentality in your church or organization, it may be time for silo field trips.  

  

Collaboration 

My last strategy is plagiarized from every “teamwork” movie ever. A few options:

  • Remember the Titans 
  • Any of the Avenger movies
  • The Lord of the Rings
  •  Cool Runnings (such a classic!)

The common theme here is pretty obvious: teamwork and collaboration. If you are struggling with a silo mentality in your church or organization, it might be time for a few cross-departmental projects.  Put people who are normally isolated from each other on the same team to solve a problem or create something new.  

The beauty of this strategy is that people often begin to see themselves as members of the larger team instead of just members of their silo. 

Wrap Up

COVID and isolation have affected us in so many ways. One of the impacts is an increase in the silo mentality among church staff members. I’m hopeful that these four strategies might be helpful for your team, or perhaps spur on a better idea.  

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