Life-Sucking Silos, Part 1


Healthy, growing churches face the tragedy of silo-building as new ministries emerge. Over time the best practices form identity. And if not intentionally guarded, that identity turns to turf-guarding. Aw, the challenge. From my observation - with growth comes:

  • an ever-increasing response to the invitation to dream big
  • expertise in leadership in every ministry department
  • leaders with not only expertise, but great passion for the unique area they're leading
  • expanded resources - in giving and serving - with those resources come the belief that we can do more than we are committed to now
  • the temptation to control "my area" for efficiency and effectiveness
  • less understanding of every other ministry department, because each area requires focus, expertise and lots of energy and time

I'm sure you can add to the list, but these few realities will quickly and easily lead to a silo approach to ministry, wherein every ministry of the church watches out for their interests with bulldog furociousness, convinced that their "baby" is the precious birth and prodigy of the Holy Spirit himself.

Who's gonna mess with that?

Someone has to.

Here are a few things we practice at Granger to keep each of us focused on the main thing, avoiding those life-sucking silos:

  • Decide: "What is the main thing?" Failure to do this will result in everyone deciding independently on their main thing. First of all at Granger our "main thing" is our mission, vision, values and purposes. Inside of these we define our one "what" ("helping people take their next step toward Christ... together"), our future objectives, how we go about our mission and vision and the five primary purposes we believe honor the heart of God (connect, grow, serve, reach out and surrender/worship).
    • Our main method of fulfilling each of these is our weekend experience. Our energy, resources, conversation and planning start and flow from there. Relationships, growth, serving, reaching out and worship are taught from here with multiple on-ramps to other venues (small groups, retreats, etc) offered.
  • Meet with your staff weekly. Every week our entire staff - children's, arts, housekeeping, administration, every staff person - gathers for one hour to connect over three things:
    • God-sightings - We share stories from the weekend, small groups, our personal lives, stories we've heard from others. We answer one question aloud, "Where did you see God this week?"
    • Staff Spotlight or Ministry Spotlight - We alternate week to week between these two spotlights. The staff spotlight puts on staffer on the "hot seat", taking questions from the other staff - about anything. The spotlighted staff can pass or lie (of course, their job is on the line, but...), but any question can be asked. After several questions, individuals tell the hot seat staffer what they appreciate about him/her. This spotlight ends with a standing ovation. It's way fun!

    The ministry spotlight features one or more leaders from a ministry department, sharing behind the scenes, coming-soon, God-stuff about their ministry. We allow time for questions and applaud their leadership and God's work.

    • Stuff You Should Know - In the final minutes of the hour the pastor leading the gathering will cast vision, share details about what's coming and encourage the staff to continue to lean in together for the cause of Christ through our common mission.
  • Celebrate God-moments in each ministry - and when you do, talk about how that celebration is about "our common mission". Got it? Every time.
  • Mentor your volunteer leaders. Invest, pour time into relationships, cast vision one-on-one. Volunteer and staff leaders will only get the main thing as much as their leaders get the main thing - and communicate it.
  •  De-construct. From time to time it's necessary to call a time-out. Evaluate, ask "Why?", clear all the sacred cows from under the protective silo and go from there. Re-teach the main thing. Reorganize leadership - that can also be read, "get the right people on the bus, and the right people in the right seats on the bus (thanks, Jim Collins and Good to Great). Stop a ministry. Yep, stop it.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. John Maxwell tells us leadership leaks. Every 17 days or so it must shared again. Our people know our mission. They embrace our vision. They get the purposes we're pursuing. It's because we talk about them all the time. On the weekend, in meetings, in casual conversation. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

These are a few of the practices at Granger that help us avoid silo ministries, keeping the main thing the main thing.