What Are Your Silos?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 9, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

In 2016-2017, I had the opportunity to participate in the Missional Leadership Initiative put on by the Churches of God, General Conference. During each of the six weekend retreats, author and speaker Reggie McNeal would teach us about living lives on God’s mission. One concept that has remained with me from those training times is Reggie’s idea of living our lives in different silos.

This idea comes from his book Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church. Church culture can either be considered as a “member culture” or a “missionary culture.” A member culture is when people join a particular congregation, and that congregation is their focus. A missionary culture is when the focus is on the Church as a whole, not just one particular congregation of it. Reggie writes:

“The member culture views society as a series of silos: politics, business, education, arts, media, technology, health care, social sector, and so forth. All of them are separate. The church culture has developed its own silo - a parallel culture in many respects - complete with schools, businesses, educational institutions, health care facilities, sports clubs, travel associations, and social agencies. Positioned as one silo among others, the church works to recruit people and resources from the other domains, vying for attention and money. In this way, the church effectively becomes a desalinization plant, sucking salt out of the community. Or a salt dome. Its activities serve effectively to take a lamp and put it under a bushel. The member-culture church violates the intent of God for his people by focusing the efforts on the spiritual silo” (Missional Renaissance, page 54).

This concept applies not only to the Church but also to our lives as individuals. Take a good, honest look at your own life. Do you have different silos? Perhaps you have a school silo, a family time silo, and a friends silo. Perhaps you have a job silo and a family/kids silo. Perhaps you even have different silos for people you know - these are my work friends, these are my church friends, these are the friends I go out to parties with, etc. My guess is that those different silos rarely, if ever, interact with each other.

As Reggie said, we in America learn the concept of silo-ing our lives from the very culture around us. We like to categorize things into nice, neat silos. This is the world of education, this is the world of politics, this is the world of religious things, this is the world of science, etc. We like to keep things in their categories so they don’t intermingle with one another, and everything is neatly placed in its own silo where we can contain it.

But is this concept Biblical? Last week, I wrote on many Scriptural passages that show us what Jesus said about discipleship. Go read that post and the linked passages if you haven’t already.

From what Jesus said, we see that discipleship should not be something reserved for church, or when we're feeling particularly spiritual. Rather, it should encompass our entire lives – work, home, school, church, and wherever else we go. It should become a way of life and not merely one part of our lives. We should not have a silo labeled “Jesus” in our lives. He is not meant to encompass only part of our lives, but we are called to surrender our entire lives to Him. That means EVERY silo, not just one.

But again, should we even have silos in our lives? Look at how Jesus lived with and taught His disciples. They literally did everything together for the duration of His earthly ministry. Jesus didn’t tell them, “Okay, guys, I’m going to take a break from this religion stuff and go be a carpenter for a while.” Jesus didn’t tell them, “You guys leave for a while, this part of my life doesn’t matter for you.” No! Jesus holistically formed His disciples by having them follow every part of His life with every part of their lives. Jesus’ disciples didn't keep working at their jobs and follow Him on the weekends or their off-hours. Instead, they gave their whole lives to follow Jesus.

Jesus addressed all of His disciples’ needs while they were with Him. He made sure their bodies were taken care of with food and rest, He made sure that they realized the love of God in their lives and taught them how to deal with their emotions through His own example, and He instilled faith in them and taught them all about Himself and God's plan for the world. Nowhere do we see Jesus separating out parts of His life as the Discipleship Silo and other parts into other silos.

For us to be holistic disciples, we need to let Jesus into every aspect of our lives. We need to allow Him to live with us and care for us in much the same way as He did for the disciples, though He is not physically present with us. We need to learn to trust Him to supply our physical needs, feel His love and presence through the Holy Spirit, and participate in spiritual disciplines for our spiritual health.

Does your love for Jesus encompass every silo of your life? Or do you tend to put Jesus in His own silo and only visit Him occasionally? Maybe you visit the Jesus Silo every Sunday morning when you go to church, and even throughout the week for a few minutes each day when you pray or have devotional time. But is that enough? Jesus is not content to be one silo in our lives; He needs to encompass every area of our lives. We are called to give up all the other aspects and things we run after in life to follow Him in everything.

Luke 9:23-25 says, “Then [Jesus] said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’” We need to deny the silo-ing effect of this world’s culture and instead focus on following Jesus with our whole lives.

The pattern of this world is that our lives are siloed into all these different areas. But we are told, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Yes, we will still have different areas of our lives. We can still have a job, a family life, attend school classes, etc. But we need to be sure that Jesus is not hanging out in His own silo, but that He’s fully invited to everything in our entire lives.

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