May 9, 2014 Tony Morgan

7 Warning Signs Your Church Has Ministry Silos: The Communications Test

You read the title of this article and thought this was going to be about your church’s communications strategy…or lack thereof. That can be an issue that leads to ministry silos, but that’s not the topic of today’s conversation. Instead, I want to focus on internal communications. That brings us to this fifth test in our series on ministry silos:

5. There’s not an intentional communications strategy to encourage trust.

 

As we’ve talked about in the past, internal communications can get challenging as the church grows. The natural tendency is to assume getting everyone in the room for every conversation and every decision is the solution. Of course, that’s not practical, and, once you get too many people in the conversation, the quality of the communications and the decision-making will be compromised. (See “The Rule of Eight.”)

The challenge, of course, is that you can’t build a culture of trust without transparent communications. Inherent in trying to create transparency is the necessity for communications to happen in both directions. In other words, top-down communications are important, but there has to be a way for people at all levels of the organizations to share their thoughts and questions. Communications have to go both ways, and those communications have to address three critical questions:

Where are we going in the future?

The vision and the strategy have to be crystal clear. As we discussed previously in this series, it has to be specific and measurable. You can’t just roll out the vision one day and assume everyone will remember it forever. You need to share it, then repeat it and then repeat it again.

For this to happen, you have to meet together. There has to be an environment where the entire staff team gathers together on a regular basis. Then there have to be opportunities for each ministry team to meet regularly. Finally, there has to be an opportunity for one-on-one connections for every person on the team. As we’ve talked about in the past, it’s possible to keep everyone informed without inviting everyone to every meeting.

The key, though, is that every person in the organization needs to fully understand how their contribution directly connects to the overall mission and vision.

What’s most important today?

This is where leaders and managers make their mark. As ministries grow, there will always be competing priorities. Good leaders and managers acknowledge that and help the team focus on what’s important right now. That means you’ll have to say, “We’re going to stop doing this for now, so that we can focus on starting this.”

Those are difficult decisions, but, believe it or not, you will gain trust from your teams if you display the courage to make those decisions. Of course, there’s huge value in including others as you develop your strategy for the future. Their contribution makes the plan stronger and builds ownership and trust. I can assure you, though, everyone on your team is craving clear expectations of what’s important now.

Is what we’re doing having an impact?

This is where transparency is key. The team needs accountability. You’ll need to identify the “Vital Signs” to monitor the health of your ministry. Then, you need to routinely keep the team on the inside loop with how you’re doing.

This includes the financial picture. I see a lot of pastors trying to hide the financial picture of the ministry. In most cases, I sense this is because the pastor is wrestling with control issues. Whatever the case, hiding the financial information leads to distrust. More important, you want your team to help build and then own the plan for resourcing ministry. That helps them make better decisions about how they engage their part of the mission.

Additionally, this is where storytelling becomes critical. You need to celebrate the wins happening across departments. This will help you build a culture that appreciates how all types of ministry help accomplish the overall mission and vision. Stories are the glue that bring the team together. Take time in every gathering to share what God is doing in people’s lives.

How are you doing with this test? Is your internal communications strategy helping to build trust on the team? If not, that’s the fifth warning sign that your church may have ministry silos.

Other articles in this series:

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. 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.
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