by Cindy Fiala and Philip Byers
We are all specialists in what we do—called, educated, skilled, passionate and in most cases, paid to get the job done. We understand that people outside of our area of expertise don’t fully understand what we do, and this would be true. It’s part of our job to lead, cast vision, set goals and develop in order to bring the goals to reality. This all takes a great leader. There is an interesting Catch-22 that happens, however, as we lead forward in our specific areas. Whether you lead a church, a ministry, lead in the corporate world and even in our homes, there is a drift toward exclusion, separation, and division. This drift creates territorialism and territorialism creates the dreaded SILOS.
By their very definition, silos are meant to keep something contained and separate from anything else. And the truth is that every ministry leader has been hired to be the champion of that ministry, but when it gets to the point of territorialism and self-containment, it becomes dangerous for the church and limits everyone’s ability to do what God is calling each of us to do—reach our communities for Christ and creating an environment where disciples are making other disciples for generations to come.
The hard truth about silo thinking and territorialism is that it reveals less about our strengths and more about our weaknesses and fears. When we drift into silo thinking we fall in the rut of self-protection, self-promotion and self … well, self everything. Collaboration and integration are the complete 180 of self; we become focused on the bigger picture, the main mission and vision, and everyone begins to push the rock from the same side, rather than trying to push for every other side limiting any traction at all.
Romans 12:3-6a says it well: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
We’re just better together!
So what is the answer to territorialism and silos? A few years ago we decided to wrestle this topic to the floor and discovered some truths about collaborating and integrating ministries. In doing so, we have broadened our ability to effectively see our mission as a whole working toward one goal and not many, mini-missions working against each other. As we work together, we benefit from the expertise of other people with different gifts and talents, we gain resources and time that we wouldn’t have had if we pushed forward on our own. Here are five ways you can integrate ministries and break-down silos.
5 Ways to Integrate Ministries
- Get the Right People in the Room
As a people who like to drive hard to get the right results, we find ourselves asking the question, “Who are the right people?” The people who have different vantage points within the organization are the right people. We need to make sure each vantage point is represented. It’s important that everyone knows the objective of the meeting in advance. If your senior leader(s) is not in the room, be sure that your vision aligns with their vision. I (Philip) have found it can be very frustrating and wasteful to head down a path that does not align with your senior leader’s vision. Learn from our mistakes, make sure your senior leadership is on board and you have the right people in the room.
- Apply The 80% Rule
One of my own (Philip) personal struggles is control. I often have to really ask myself the question: Do I want to be right or do I want to get it right?
When working in a room with a group of leaders, there are usually a lot of opinions and ideas. A few years ago we were introduced to a groundbreaking principle called the 80% rule (thanks to @willmancini and Auxano). The 80% rule is this: It is better to have 100% of the people agree on 80% then 80% of the people agree on 100%. When working as a team, we have to shift our expectations and do a quick check—Are we all 80%? (We use a simple thumb-up or thumb-down from each person.) If yes, decision made. If no, keep talking. Is it all about my idea or the best idea winning out? If I truly want a group of people to integrate, then we all have to check our ego at the door. And remember, it’s more important to get it right than to be right.
- Clearly Define the Win
Henry Cloud in his book Boundaries for Leaders says that one of the critical roles of the leader is to ensure that everyone has focused attention. Before the team disburses into action, everyone must have a clearly defined focus. If we call ourselves successful after this initiative, what will we accomplish? Name it! Be specific! We call this the “win.” Then organize everything you do around the win. Make decisions that help drive toward the win. Then evaluate your effectiveness around the win that your team previous defined (see #5).
- Assign Ownership
Coming up with a great idea is good, but coming up with the proper plan to execute the great idea is essential. As leaders, we have to assign ownership to each piece of the plan. This is a critical component because this group of people may not typically work together. If it doesn’t get assigned ownership then it’s likely it will not happen. Accountability is a key ingredient to the accomplishment of any team-oriented task. For example, at the end of your planning meeting make sure that everyone can clearly state back the win and what their role is in accomplishing the win. As we often say, clarity is king.
- Conduct a Blameless Autopsy
Andy Stanley says, “We evaluate what we value and we value what we evaluate.” We call this the blameless autopsy. This step is often one that is overlooked. With a sense of a job well done, we can be quick to move on to the next project or goal. I think this is a step that great leaders won’t let their teams miss. The evaluation is necessary because it is often in the reflection that we learn our greatest lessons.
The second element of your blameless autopsy should be to go back to the “win” that you identified (see #3) and then evaluate it. Did we do what we said we were going to do? What numerical data are we seeing? The event we just did might have had some great stories, but did we achieve what we were trying to accomplish? (i.e. Did more first time families show up because of this event? Track it, go to your database and look up that number.) That is the tough question that we must ask.
The third element would be to ask, “What did we learn?” It is often in the stillness after the storm where we have gained our most useful insight. Use this prayerful reflection as a team to determine your success.
One of our church values is Love Story, “Celebrating God’s big story and every new one He writes.” Story should be the first element of that evaluation. What are the stories that God is writing through the work you have accomplished as a team? Celebrate what God is doing. Celebrate the way He has allowed you and your team to be apart of His work.
One of our recent success stories centered around a whole church integration. We recently developed six core values that we think will drive our church for the years to come. We asked ourselves, “What would be the best thing we could do that would help every person in our church know and understand our values at a deeper level?” Our one word as a church is “family.” We decided that the best way to accomplish this would be to create moments where families could have conversations around these values. We organized a six-week worship series centered on the values. We then created discussion questions for every adult small group in our church to discuss. We had all of family ministry (early childhood, elementary, and students) teach on the values with large group time and small group discussion. The buzz that was created by our integration was unbelievable. We had husbands and wives discussing their Sunday sermon in their small group with friends and then having spiritual conversations at the dinner table with their kids. It was some of the most fruitful six weeks of ministry we have seen. We are convinced that it would not have been nearly as productive without the hard work of integration among all of our teams.
At the end of the day, we are still figuring this out or as we like to say, “We’re building the plane in the air.” But we did push hard to have these conversations, and because of that we are truly better together. We leave our feelings and any personal agendas at the door in order to be “all in.” We bring others into the conversation and partner with other ministries within our church.
When people collaborate, when ministries tear down silos and work together, when churches partner with each other, we become and live in the reality of what Christ called us to do! We will see greater things. We will be filled with awe and see wonders and miracles (Acts 2:43). We will have “glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:47).
Cindy is the Family Ministry Pastor at Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, TX. One of her greatest passions is to see ministries integrate and combine efforts for the sake of helping families be all God created them to be. She and her husband John are parents to three plus two and are stupid in love with five-and-a-half grandlittles.
FB: Cindy Fiala
Philip is the Groups Pastor at Preston Trail Community Church. His greatest passions are building teams and helping people find and live out God’s calling in their lives. He is married to Kelly, who also serves on staff as part of the Family Ministry team, and have 2 active boys—Brady (3) and Deacon (1).