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Silos: In Your Congregation and School

May 18, 2017 12:15:00 PM

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In an earlier blog, I spoke about personal silos. Since church workers feed into a congregation’s culture, it is the attitude of the church workers that dictate what the culture of a congregation will be. So, that being said, when addressing congregational silos and how to break out, the congregation church workers’ cannot be operating out of a silo mentality, if the congregation is to move out of silos and the assumption is that the church workers are outside. 

What Are Congregational Silos?

Again, defined by the Business Dictionary, a silo is "a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture." There are several indicators of congregations who operate in solos. 

One consideration are the communications of a congregation or school. How much of the communication is directed at church members or school families? Since communication can include your website, social media, and press releases, are you communicating information in a manner that an “outsider” will understand or even want to see? 

Another consideration of congregation or school silos are the events you hold. Who are the people invited to your events? Where are they held? Within the walls of your church or school?

As churches or school, programs for adults, seniors, youth, etc., are being offered? Do you see these programs only for congregation members? 

The Great Commission

The Great Commission is the instruction of Jesus to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations. The Great Commission and siloing are diametrically opposed to one another. So, what are some considerations that for breaking down silos?

Discover Your Communities

Your congregation or school has been placed in a specific geographic community for a specific purpose by God. Your congregation is a small part of many parts in your community.

First, you must understand what other parts are included in your community. Who are the other churches and schools? What businesses operate in your community? What are the demographics of the people that live there?

Another component are the issues your community is dealing with. Are you aware of the major social or economic concerns of your community? There is so much going on in the world today and every community is being impacted by issues such as teen suicide, drugs, crime, poverty, etc. 

Along with the negative issues, there are positive things going on in all communities. Awards of recognition, new construction, celebrations and anniversaries are some of the things that attract people to your community.

Your congregation or school may also be part of a denominational community. If it is, do you “walk together” in the Great Commission? Do you partner with your denominational community with resources as well as with challenges?

Know too, that communities can serve as silos if you let them. We exist as a part of God’s creation. We are not bound by geographic lines nor social-economic groups, nor race.

If your church or school is to operate outside of a silo, those operations include others outside your church or school. It includes utilizing the gifts and resources of like-minded people and organizations outside your church or school. This may include joining efforts with another church or school. 

1 Corinthians 1:10 — "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."

Your Opportunities

Knowing you have been placed for a specific purpose, what are those unique needs and opportunities that you may serve?

Talk to community leadership. Talk to business owners. Talk to the other school administrators. What help do they need to carry out their mission? If you are truly here to serve others, it is their needs that must be met. Does the public school need volunteers for tutoring? Is there a community clean-up day that needs volunteers? These are just some options you may discover if you ask. 

To do this, you must also know the unique gifts your church or school has to offer. Can your school offer an after school program? Do you have members with expertise in IT that can be shared with others? There are many people who have talents to share. What energizes your people?

1 Peter 4:10  "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."

When considering operating outside a silo, perhaps the biggest opportunity is holding an event. Too many times we hold a youth activity specifically for the youth of our church or school. And if we do invite the public, we hold it on our property, behind the walls. That’s not inviting.

If you want to have a speaker on a hot topic, hold the event at your library and invite the public. A band concert might be held at a park where people passing by can enjoy it as well. Think outside the “walls” whenever possible to do so.

The Great Commission is not by special invitation.


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Ann Ciaccio

Written by Ann Ciaccio

Ann Ciaccio is the Communications Assistant for the LCMS Northern Illinois District. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she studied Marketing and is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia, Illinois. Ann enjoys the challenge of using her marketing skills as a tool to help carry out the mission and ministry of the Northern Illinois District. She is married and has two daughters, a junior in high school and a freshman in college. Her motto: “dark chocolate works.”

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