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How “Ministry Silos” Hurt Your Staff & Church (and the 1st Step Toward a Fix)

There are six of us in the Morgan family. Let’s pretend that while we all shared the same house, we each lived in separate rooms. We only engaged in individual activities. We never spoke to one another. We never shared our future dreams. And, with the exception of one meal together each Sunday, we always ate on different schedules. Would you consider us a healthy family? Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, this is a very typical picture of life inside the house we call “church.” People and ministries share the same roof but do nearly everything in isolation. Outside of Sundays, they rarely combine their efforts. Like members of a dysfunctional family, most church staff members know their team isn’t healthy. But they’ve learned to cope and get by, living separate lives within the same house.

I’m tired of seeing churches in which the children’s ministry, student ministry, choir, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, discipleship program, local missions team and other departments are each operating independently of the rest. Healthy businesses would never allow one business unit to compete against another. Healthy churches don’t allow that either.

This problem is very serious, but it isn’t brand new. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to an early church hindered by the issue:

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. (1 Corinthians 1:10, NLT)

Throughout time, the church has continued to be held back by this challenge. The issue shows up in today’s churches in the form of ministry silos—undeclared divisions between departments. It’s not hard to tell when a church has silos. The difficult part is discovering and eliminating their true causes.

Based on our experiences with hundreds of churches, the team at The Unstuck Group has identified seven major causes of ministry silos. We’ll explore each problem, along with the symptoms of each and steps you can take to begin addressing them.

But before we get started, let’s pause to remember how much is at stake:

  • What could happen if leaders within churches began putting a unified purpose ahead of personal agendas?
  • How might the Kingdom advance if wins for the team were really more important than protecting turf?
  • Who could be reached if we cared more about ministry and less about maintaining our individual platforms?

Now, let’s not waste any time trying to find out.

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Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.