Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

Have you ever been in a work environment where you felt like you were spinning your wheels because the various groups or ministry heads in the parish refused to work together on a consistent basis?  At times in parish life it can be frustrating because of the lack collaboration.  The National Directory For Catechesis speaks of the responsibility of the catechetical leader is to seek “collaboration with the pastor, other parish ministers, and appropriate committees, boards, and councils” (NDC pg. 225).

Working Together

In my parish, an “inter-ministry” team was formed which drew all the main ministry heads together to discuss how we can together serve our parishioners and fulfill the parish priorities that had been established.  The aim of this group was to go beyond the all to common approach of each ministry being a “silo” amidst the other “silos” (e.g., Youth Ministry being completely separate from Religious Education and those two being separate from Adult Faith Formation, etc.).  This has helped cut down on different ministries trying to do similar things and discovering that by working together we can better meet the needs of our parish community.  So, how come we don’t meet our desired result or help to get more people involved?  Often it’s because various groups or ministries are not working together.

Meeting the needs of the parish

It is easy to speak of the importance of collaboration, but really seeking to accomplish it is what matters.  Even Jesus, the second person of the Trinity did not do it all on his own and he chose 12 apostles to continue the ministry he had begun and to teach in His name.  In addition 72 disciples were chosen later to go on mission.

At the heart of why various ministry heads, boards, councils and committees need to work together is to be able to more fully bear fruit and fulfill the mission of the Church as well as the particular mission of your parish.  Most parishes have a “parish mission statement” that articulates the heart of your parishes identity and desired goals.  Therefore, it is extremely advantageous to partner and collaborate so the fulfillment of these goals can be achieved.  If you are a catechetical leader then consider reflecting on how you are doing this and ways you may need to improve.  If you are a catechist, consider how you are working or not working with other catechists and the director of your program to build community and work together in your ministry.

Some Tips from a leadership professional

John C. Maxwell is a leadership guru that I enjoy reading.  I’ll conclude by sharing what he said about collaboration in his book, The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player:

Collaboration is the key word when it comes to meeting challenges as a team. Cooperation is merely working together agreeably, but collaborating means working together more aggressively. Every team player must bring something more to the table, and not just put in his minimum required work.

A collaborative team player needs to change in four key areas:
Perception

A team player must see his teammates as collaborators, not as competitors. Their skills and talents must complement one another, rather than be made to compete against each other. Competition within the team will only hurt the team.

Attitude

Be supportive, not suspicious, of your teammates. Always assume another person’s motives are good unless proven otherwise. If you trust people, it naturally occurs that you will treat them better, and a collaborative spirit will grow within your team.

Focus
Concentrate on the team, not yourself.Think of progress as a relay race, where you must pass the baton onto your next teammate. Do not ask “What’s in it for me?” but rather “What does this do for the team?”
Results
Create victories through multiplication. Remarkable results can be achieved when you harness the skills and talents of all your individual team members. Several heads are always better than one.
To be a collaborative team player…

•Think win-win-win.
•Complement others and their unique gifts.
•Take yourself out of the picture. Stop promoting yourself and ask how the team would do if you were not in it, propose ideas that will not involve your participation but will promote other teammates.

As catechetical leaders and catechists we can do great things through Christ who strengthens us if we collaborate with one another.  Come Holy Spirit?

What are ways you have collaborated in your parish that has helped you, the staff and fellow parishioners?

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