Breaking Down Silos

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Every church has them. Every business has them. Silos go up when individual areas get caught up in their own goals and fail to work cross-functionally with others within the organization. It’s certainly not written in your job duties that it’s the responsibility of a youth leader to break down silos in a church. However, somebody has to do it, so why not the people who successfully work with a wide variety of personalities every week in youth group?

Silos always harm ministry. Ironically, silos most often form because individuals are passionate about their own work and keep their focus on their specific goals. Most folks don’t build silos purposely. So that makes it far easier to break down the barriers between various ministry areas. 

As a youth leader, you work with the pastors, other education/discipleship areas, and maybe with the worship team. If you can remind ministry areas that within the bigger picture of the congregation’s call to mission, all areas are integral. You can start to break down silos and build up cooperation and unity. Use your relational skills. Show interest in the ministry areas. Look for opportunities to bring folks together to work on projects. You might even pull folks into your ministry area in order to help you and get communication rolling again.

You are a key leader in the life of your church. If you see barriers or lack of communication across various ministry areas, you need to help with solutions.  

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It's true that the Youth Leader gets "sucked" into many different areas of the church, but I don't think it should be expected of them to break down and/or tackle many of those other "probem" areas unless they are gifted to do so, have the time to do it, and a desire to do it. Let's face it, the youth ministry is a hard enough "beast" on it's own and if they are suppose to be concentrating on that area, we don't want to see "burn out", frustration, discouragement or a feeling of being overwhelmed. It's true that many of the physical and spiritual gifts are those that compliment the other areas and can add benefit and aide to difficulties that arise in those areas. 

What I have done is make myself available as a "consultant" to the committee and/or ministry. That way you can move in and out of the committee/ministry needs without specifically having to be responsible for the things they are suppose to be responsible for. It allows them an open door, also, that not only they can contact the youth leader for advice, but , that the youth leader will feel more comfortable giving suggestions even when not asked. Also, the ministry/committee must reach out in some shape, way or form, otherwise, you're just stepping on toes. Personally, I try to look for things that nobody else wants to do - but that's my  preference.

Areas, that I have seen helpful to me is doing this is the Outreach Committee and the Seniors group. It's especially good to interact with as many committees/ministries, as possible (or fits your schedule) because youth can be an asset and plugged into almost any ministry of the church. The more you interact with them - building those relationships (in & outside church environment) the more they will trust you and ultimately support you.

Just one example of this type of interaction, is for churches who do services for seniors residences or nursing homes, to have young children come and sing songs or play instruments at those services.   For the young kids, it builds an understanding of age, of infirmity, of the blessing of helping and service.  And the older people generally really like to see the young kids;  it brightens their day and gives them hope for the future too.   Kids from age 6 to 12 generally like to do it, and when they are used to it, they will also participate at an older age.