Get Out of Your Lane!

One of the traps we see ministries falling into revolves around this set of assumptions: We have the youth ministry lane, the worship lane, the adult education lane, the missions lane, the communications lane, and so on.  And then an individual, group, or committee is then assigned to these lanes. They work in these lanes, and then they report back to all of the other people working in the other lanes.  And then if a staff person or volunteer vacates their lane, there is an urgent need to refill that lane with someone else.

Let’s stop doing this.

Rather than setting up lanes for every task and drawing complicated and largely useless flow charts, lets simply and clearly articulate desired outcomes, frequently revisit core values, identify gifted and committed people (who may or may not fit your preconceived lanes!), and just say, “Go!” (To be sure, this is NOT to say that various areas of ministry should never be aligned with particular groups of people. But it is to say these areas need to be permeable, flexible, and held very, very loosely. In my experience they are often hermetically sealed.)

This is where disciplined, joyful collaboration happens. It’s where people are aligned, committed, and moving in the same direction, but not compartmentalized or strictly relegated to a narrow set of tasks. It’s where people can move into other areas of ministry where they discover gifts, interests, and sources of joy that they hadn’t been fully aware of, and then follow them into unexpected places. It’s where they are encouraged to take their God-given creativity to others and say, “hey, what if we tried it this way?” It’s where people come together and take ownership of the things that matter, often leaving behind the things that don’t (this can be very telling!) It’s where cultures of deep trust take root. It’s where fruitful, creative, disruption happens, where the unanticipated is a gift.

So, for the sake of disciplined, joyful collaboration, “get out of your lane” can mean at least two things: (1) get out of your lane because it might not be a lane that anyone needs to be in at all. Maybe that lane doesn’t need to exist anymore. Maybe we need to rethink the whole system of lanes – the direction, the speed, and how everyone is aligned, sharing, and collaborating (or not!). But it can also mean (2) get out of your lane because there are people in other lanes who need your unique vantage point, creativity, disruption, and more frequent communication. And you need theirs! If we’re all clear about desired goals, outcomes, and our core values, I’ll gladly give up the myth of being “streamlined” and “efficient” in exchange for creative, imaginative, trusting, unpredictable, fruitful, and – yes, more collaborative – faithfulness.

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