Growing up in Virginia, I lived on a farm surrounded by more farms. It was there I realized that, even though I was born in the South (i.e., the southeastern part of the United States), I was not a full-blown Southerner. I never developed a taste for grits or sweet tea, I don’t care for NASCAR, and can do without the bugs and humidity, thank you! But I wasn’t a farm boy. I had the accent, but not the acumen for agricultural life.
Those silos dotted the land and pierced the horizon on many fronts, each containing their own grains: wheat, corn, etc. They stood on their own. At no point did those silos interconnect with any other silo. No need existed.
Sadly, many ministries in many of our churches are silos. How so?
- They operate with their own purpose and identity apart from the rest of the church.
- They operate with their own present work (mission) and their preferred future (vision) in a vacuum.
- They operate with an overinflated sense of ownership (this is our ministry and no one else’s).
What’s missing is an overarching understanding of the vision and mission of a church and how each team and ministry plays a part. A vision gives a laser focus, setting the trajectory for where a church is going. All plans sprout from the vision. And all plans are usually carried out by the various ministry teams, which involves a unity of mind and heart in moving toward the goal set.
Not Silos, But Aquifers
In Kentucky, I became acquainted with aquifers, those underground streams and channels that keep that Kentucky bluegrass so bluish-green. I wasn’t aware of aquifers until I pastored my previous church (Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in Lexington). After a torrential rain, water began flooding our downstairs children’s area and began gathering into our fellowship hall. It took us hours with a Shop-Vac to clean this up. But the aquifers, which usually can absorb the water, became full underground and had nowhere else to go but into our building.
The grass and trees that show up are watered, if you will, by those aquifers underground. These channels interconnect to provide nourishment to what was most apparent.
We need channels moving unseen and seen that bring about the vision and mission of the church that fuels the plan and trajectory of every team and every person in our church.
An Initial Exercise
Draw one central circle with three other circles surrounding the center circle. Draw lines from the center circle to each of the three circles.
In the center circle, write in your team or ministry. In the other three circles, write in three other teams that directly connect with your team. Here’s an example:
Two of our members have developed a new Greeter System. While this system, by name, deals with greeters, they have connections with other teams such as Building & Grounds, Decorating, etc. Now, your churches may not have a decorating team, but ours does and we can certainly see how all of these can intersect well to provide a good first impression.
Another exercise you can do is to ask: “What role does my team play in feeding our vision and mission?” Our vision at ARBC is to help all in Denver and the nations believe that Jesus is enough. How? By being and making hopeful, joyful disciples of Jesus. So the question is: What role does my team play in helping all of Denver and the nations believe Jesus is enough? How are we presently helping make hopeful, joyful disciples of Jesus. For some teams, there’s a direct understanding. For other teams, this may not be apparent upfront. Mine out why not, then create some action steps to move this in the right direction.
This needs to be a part of every church’s DNA: working together to multiply disciples, leaders, classes, services, and churches. This will not be accomplished with a silo mentality. Let’s be aquifers, interconnecting to provide nourishment to each other as we see to make the vision God’s given our churches a reality.