At the end of Matthew 28, shortly before Jesus pulls the Neo from the Matrix move, he gives his disciples their orders, their goals, their task. Ultimately, He gives them His vision:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Short, sweet, to the point. Here it is. Our reason for existing as a church. There are several levels at work:
- The Church (note the capital c) is the Body of Christ at large. (Beyond the scope of this post is “Who really belongs here?”) It is comprised of many individual bodies in cities, towns, suburbs, etc. The mission of the body is the fulfillment of the Great Commission (above). The Church silos when it considers minor theological differences to be major ones.
- Each individual Body of Christ is ALSO a church. These churches are also comprised of individual bodies, but these are at the local level. These “bodies” might be people, and they might be ministry teams (or whatever you might call them). The mission of this body is also the Great Commission, but functionally and practically, each individual body will pursue this vision in a manner of their giftedness. The local church silos when is refuses to work with other local churches, or, when it attempts to be something that it is not.
- Each ministry team, small group, etc, is also a church, with the same vision as above. Each team then, has a role to play. The worship team may practically live out the Great Commission one way, while Student Ministry practically lives it out in another. But, there is still (or, there should be) a singularity of vision. The local church becomes silo’d when individual teams a) don’t feel a part of the whole, b) don’t feel understood by the rest, c) feel like they are more important than the rest, d) see that one is celebrated over others, e) feels unsupported by the rest and, most importantly, e) when the whole (as larger entity) forgets its very purpose. Since I spoke about a-d yesterday, let’s spend some time on e).
When the local church “forgets” its purpose, silos form because each team is left on its own to create its own purpose. This is inherently selfish because individuals, rather than a whole, create these purposes. And because there is no larger purpose, I am free to pursue ministry at my whim. I don’t need to think through the implications of my actions, or worry about anything or anyone else.
A silo is the reason why tension forms when worship teams might create a worship experience that is focused inward while an evangelism team might be reaching out. A silo forms when student or children’s ministry feels that no one else wants to help. A silo forms when multiple calendar events happen on the same day and no one communicated or asked how others might help. Silos form when we have a service to “celebrate our heritage” so that we might build relationships inter-generationally, but before the message we dismiss the children for “their own worship”, then, at the meal, age-segregate the order of who eats, and then have a separate table for the older folks, parents eat together, and then the kids sit with themselves (yeah, that happened). Silos form when we do the same things, but do them separately. So…how to fix it?
- Recognize that silos exist and identify them. Are we meeting regularly? Are we actually talking when we meet? How often are we discussing what we are about?
- Remember Jesus’ vision: make disciples. If what we are doing is not making disciples, we need to stop. No matter how sacred the cow is.
- Learn what the role/function of our own body of Christ is. If we are called to be inter-generational, then every single thing that we do ought to be around that role. Everything.
- Learn how each ministry team functions within that role. If the larger function is to be an equipping church, then every single ministry team should be equipping people. This will look different for each team. How is worship equipping? How is children’s ministry equipping?…
This larger vision allows something to measure against. As we face new ideas and methodologies, we can always come back and ask, “How does this compare with who God has equipped us to be?” In answering this question, we can begin to pull the silos down and align our church with what God has called us to be. Not hole-fillers. No more “plugging people in”.