Your organization can be “pedal to the metal,” and still lurching—if you’re not firing on all cylinders
How could Joni and Friends, a revered international ministry that evangelizes and disciples thousands of persons affected by disabilities keep from succumbing to unneeded silos or territorial boundaries, constant (and unsettling surprises) and ensuing mistrust among a multitude of diverse ministry programs? “It can happen to any Christian organization,” says President Doug Mazza. His biblically-based integrated thinking rids senior leadership of siloed mentalities, empowering them, in turn, to master a collaborative approach that’s demanding, risky–and outrageously effective.
“People, by nature, gravitate toward what needs to get done today. Individually and departmentally we want to take charge and be in control and do it our own way,” says Mazza. “Unfortunately, instead of building community, you can breed contempt among the ranks. Instead of instilling hospitality, you incite friction. As a Christian organization, shouldn’t the goal be unity with each other? Romans 15:5 implores us, ‘May the God who gives us endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify God.’ To me that’s integration according to the scriptures. Management-wise the way to foster unity is through integrating the roles and responsibilities across departments.”:
Mazza illustrates: “I believe in giving related tasks to different departments so that no one department, or ministry, can do it alone. For example: our Field Services department identifies and assigns wheelchair teams to specific countries. Field Services must work with our educational arm, the Christian Institute on Disabilities which is tasked with creating overall international strategy. The third leg of the stool is that both departments must be integrated with the Development Department to be properly funded,” says Mazza, who deftly sees his President’s title as more like that of a CIO—Chief Integration Officer.
“By integrating the work between departments we actually create a culture of cooperation. You can hide in a silo, but you can’t hide in overlapping circles of mutually accountable functions. Doing away with silos means there are no hidden agendas, no surprises because, in an integrated model, the only way work gets done is through listening and talking to—and then serving– one another. Management-wise it’s a lot of work, but the results can be extraordinary,” notes Mazza. In China for example, the ongoing delivery of wheelchairs has helped plant new seeds for evangelism in the country’s seminaries where courses on disability studies are now being taught.
Often we are asked, “Why have you come to our country?” Mazza’s response: “We have a mandate to ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. . . . Go out to the roads and country lanes, and urge them to come in so my house will be full’ (Luke 14:21 & 23). “Our job is to fill God’s house with the people with whom Jesus spent so much time, the disabled. We address the reality of suffering head on through our founder, Joni Eareckson Tada, who’s been quadriplegic for more than 40 years.” That’s a process that models an integrated Christ-centered mission, vision and values with integrity.
The Bottom Line:
Making multiple departments mutually accountable to serve each other and achieve a common goal creates unity and brings about Christcentered outcomes no one leader, staffer or department could possibly achieve on their own.
In 2010 there were 20 Wheels for the World Outreaches in 14 different countries. Over 8,000 wheelchairs were donated, changing the lives of those disabled recipients and their families. To date, Joni and Friends has delivered over 63,000 wheelchairs to 105 countries.