When you hear the word “silo” do you think of farming, work environments, or congregations?
For farmers, a silo is used as part of the process in crop storage. It is a sealed environment, keeping bad things out and good things in.
In a work environment or congregation, it can be destructive.
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."
I’d like to address silos both as a church worker and as a congregation. Since church workers feed into a congregation’s culture, it is the attitude of the church leaders and workers that dictate what the culture of a congregation will be. This blog will address church workers.
Whenever I started a new position with a company, I researched as much as possible about the organization I would be working for, looking at their culture and their mission statement in particular. I wanted to know the mini-world I would be working in.
I, also, made it a point to meet with the people and departments that surrounded me. I thought of them as “customers” and asked “how could I serve them?” This probably had the biggest impact in my job performance as anything. I would meet with them to learn, big picture, what their area of responsibility was. Then, I would ask them, what I could do for them. I did not make promises, just maintained a list so when in a position to help them, I could.
I was operating outside a silo. Becoming familiar with other departments and people not only enabled me to perform better at my job, but it also said that these people really mattered. It’s like a mini-outreach. It promotes a team mentality and that we are in this together. And for a congregation, that is especially important.
Every congregation should have a vision, what God wants to do through current leaders and laity. A vision matters, for it guides the church in all it does. Leaders need to be able to reach out and communicate this to their church workers. Without this communication, individuals will operate with their personal goals and visions in mind, not those of the congregation.
As a church worker, if you don’t know the vision, you’re working in a silo. You need to know what you can do to contribute to the mission. Ask your leadership what their vision is for the congregation and how you can help.
While final high level decisions are made by the church’s leader, silos can exist where all decisions, no matter how inconsequential, are also made by the church leader.
Leadership taking total control fences in your church workers. Empowering your church workers gives the vision the opportunity to succeed. They feel a part of the vision and walk with the congregation to see it succeed. This may be as simple as reaching out to a stranger who walks in the door of your church.
Operating outside a silo as a church worker can also mean staying on top of internal communications, written and other. If you are a secretary in the church office, knowing what’s in your school’s newsletter should be important to you. If you are a youth director, knowing what your school is doing will be good to know so that you can continue the conversation with the youth.
But, don’t just look at internal communications or groups within your congregation.
Breaking Out of a Bigger Silo
Church workers, I know that you understand that you are a part of a bigger group(s). You are a part of a District Office and even larger, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
What do you do to stay in tune with your district office and LCMS? Are there resources, seminars or networking groups to help you and your congregation?
You are not alone. We are all walking together in God’s mission.
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