Patrick Lencioni brought the concept of silos into the leadership conversation with this great book, Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars.Silos occur in organizations and churches when leaders act like their ministry or team is the only one that matters. A silo attitude results in that leader or team only supporting, giving, or attending functions that pertain to them. It can be kill a ministry and result in these problems.
- Unhealthy competition
- Hurt feelings
- Lack of trust
- Fighting over limited resources
- Foot dragging
So how can a leader minimize ministry silos? Below I suggest a key foundation and then 5 pillars to build on that foundation to rid your ministry of silos.
If you want to change your culture to minimize and remove silos, build from the bottom up. Build a solid foundation on the Biblical concept of unity. Teach and train your leaders often about unity remembering that unity does not mean uniformity. God gives each of us unique gifts and abilities which creates a healthy church. Keep these and other Scriptures in front of your leaders.
- Psa. 133.1 (NIV) How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
- Rom. 15.5 (NIV) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
- Eph. 4.3 (NIV) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
- 1Cor. 1.10 (NLT) I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
Next, place these five pillars on that unity foundation.
- Make sure you have a clear, shared vision. Keep your church’s mission/vision/values before your leaders. If you’re fuzzy on mission/vision/values, I recommend Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique.
- Build trust between all your leaders. When leaders trust each other it increases the trust neurotransmitter, oxytocin, which builds camaraderie. The more people trust each other, studies show that they will co-operate more. (De Dreu, 2012).
- Encourage your leaders to talk to each other. Schedule consistent leadership meetings so that leaders can hear each other’s stories and needs. Start a leadership e-letter and send it to every leader. The more in common leaders share with other leaders, the more productive and motivated they’ll be.
- Remind leaders that it’s not all about them. Remind them that they are part of a larger purpose and that great teams look out for each other. Foster this attitude among your leaders. “How can I help my fellow leaders, even though it’s not my ministry?”
- Teach leaders to step inside each other’s shoes. When we see life from another’s perspective, we are more giving and more likely to help. It’s a concept mentalizing (Waytz et al., 2012).
Are silos an issue in your ministry? How do you deal with them?
De Dreu, C.K.W. (2012) Oxytocin modulates cooperation within and competition between groups: An integrative review and research agenda. Hormones and Behavior, 61 (3), pp.419-428.
Waytz, A., Zaki, J. & Mitchell, J.P. (2012) Response of Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Altruistic Behavior. Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (22), pp.7646-7650.
After 32 years working in a church, I stepped down last year after a fulfilling 7/2; year run as a senior pastor in Aurora, IL. This past year I’ve accomplished several things.
- Completed a book for Inter-Varsity Press called People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivate Leadership. It releases in February of 2014.
- Almost completed another book on the subject of neuroleadership for Christian leaders (intersects brain-based insights with the Bible).
- Created the foundation for my consulting/coaching ministry for pastors.
- Formed an animation company called BullsEye Animations.
- Traveled to Canada, Haiti, and Mexico to train pastor-leaders.
- Preached in several churches.
- Almost completed an Executive Masters in the Science of Neuroleadership.
I’ve been busy accomplishing many things, but I’m at a transition point in my life. I want to go back into church ministry as a lead pastor. To help me in this transition, I’ve hired a wonderful Christian coach, Kim Avery, to guide me through the process. I’ve scheduled several phone coaching sessions with her. Here are the five reasons I’m getting a coach this year.
- Perspective. Although I’m an intelligent guy, sometimes I lose perspective. Someone totally objective can often see things I can’t and I need that in my life right now.
- Questions. I learn well when others ask me good questions. It puts the thinking into my court. Good coaches know how to ask good questions.
- Push-back. Sometimes my thinking can get so one-tracked that I don’t consider other possibilities. A coach can help me think “outside-the-box” by pushing back on my assumptions.
- Blind spots. This relates to #1 and #3 above. We all have blind spots. As I enter into this transition, I don’t want to make decisions that might be prompted by blind spots. A coach can help reveal blind spots that can skew decision-making.
- Affirmation. As I move into my next phase of life, whatever that looks like, I appreciate affirmation from those I respect. A respected coach can affirm good decision-making and through affirmation can prompt me take that final step necessary to make the right decisions.
If you have been coached, what benefits have you seen from your coaching experience?
I recently attended a two-day retreat with Keith Meyer sponsored by the Cornerstone Pastor’s Network.Keith is a pastor and author of several books on soul care including one honored in 2010 as one of the five best books for the leader’s inner life, Whole Like Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs.
Keith challenged us with several great practices to take care of our soul. Here are the top five that grabbed my attention the most.
- Our longing for Him must supersede our love for His ministry. So often our passion for Christ gets buried in our passion for our church or ministry. When that happens we stifle that vital connection to the Vine, our true source of joy and strength.
- We must slow down enough to go God’s speed. And what is God’s speed? The speed of love and relationships. This one really struck me. Too often in my drive to accomplish my daily goals, I move so fast that I breeze by the relational connections that Jesus most wants me make.
- When we pay attention to God throughout the day, we’re most open to divinely arranged interruptions. One way we can become more sensitive to Him is to ‘pray our day’ and ‘pray our events.’ That is, use your calendar items and task list as cues to pray for your meeting, lunch appointment, study time, or whatever you have planned for the day. When we do this everything becomes a cue to go to Him.
- Memorize long transformative passages like Colossians 3, John 15, and Romans 12. Sometimes we memorize single Scripture verses and use them simply as ‘pills’ to treat our daily problems. Longer passages, however, can best transform our thinking.
- Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning. This one originally came form Dallas Willard, USC philosophy professor and writer of some of the best books on spiritual formation. One of my favorites he wrote is Renovation of the Heart,a must-read for every pastor.
- The acronym VIM captures the non-negotiables for spiritual transformation. ‘V’ stands for vision. ‘I’ stands for intention. ‘M’ stands for means. Again, Dallas Willard was the first to suggest this process. Here’s a great article that unpacks VIM.
What practices have most helped you care for your soul?
The terms spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation practices have taken center stage in many churches and pastor conversations today. Essentially they refer to what we do to build healthy souls. And we all want that. They serve as means to an end, to become more like Jesus, not as ends in themselves. And the most common ones include Bible reading, fasting, and prayer.
While I believe that most pastors somewhat regularly practice the main ones, I have a hunch that we may often unintentionally miss these four. As you read each one, ask yourself when you last practiced it.
- Not having to have the last word.
- Keith Meyer, pastor and author, tells a story about a student in one of Dallas Willard’s classes (he’s one of today’s leading voice on spiritual disciplines). At the end of one class a student rudely challenged him with a question. With Dallas’ keen mind he could have crushed him with an answer. Yet, he gently responded with, “Well, that’s a great question and a good time to end class.” After the class several angry and supportive students came up to him asked why he didn’t answer. He said, “I was practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
- Solitude for the extrovert and community for the introvert.
- Introverts usually practice solitude easily yet may find it difficult to intentionally break their alone time to be with others. The opposite holds true for the extrovert. Silence and solitude can feel excruciating for an extrovert. Yet, often we need to do the opposite of what comes easy for the greatest impact on our souls.
- Submission for a Type-A, high-D personality.
- Both those descriptions reflect my personality. I like to be in charge and lead the way. It’s hard for me to take a back seat. Yet when I do so with a right heart, it counters the temptation to become prideful.
- No one likes to be wrong. Yet, when we do wrong, when we sin, Scripture tells us to confess it. It easier to confess it to God in private. It’s hard to confess it to others against whom we’ve sinned. Yet when we appropriately confess our sin to others, God gives us a deep sense of cleansing and peace in our souls.
What other disciplines do you see that pastors often miss?
It’s all about the brain.
When you preach a sermon or make a presentation and want to maximize your impact with your presentation, keep the brain in mind.
More than anyone else, Cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer has studied the link between learning and multimedia. In his experiments, those exposed to his learning concepts recalled details more accurately and problem solved better, what we hope happens when we preach, teach, or present. Here’s a summary of his findings with practical tips you can easily apply in your next Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
- People learn better when you use words and pictures versus words alone.
- Application: include applicable pictures in your slides, not just filler type pictures.
- People learn better when you simultaneously use words and corresponding pictures rather than using them successively.
- Application: include words AND pictures on the same slide.
- People learn better when you place the words and pictures close to each other rather far from each other on the slide.
- Application: make sure you keep your words and related picture close to each other on every slide.
- People learn better when you exclude extraneous material.
- Application: keep your slides simple, the fewer words and pictures the better.
- People learn better when you use animation and narration rather than animation andon-screen text.
- Application: when appropriate, sprinkle animations into your presentations to illustrate key concepts. SermonSpice is a great resource for churches.
What have you discovered that has helped make your presentations more sticky?