Although al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have become almost synonymous over the last decade, bin Laden does not run the organization single-handedly. Its infrastructure is small, mobile, and decentralized—each cell operates independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. Local operatives rarely know anyone higher up in the organization’s hierarchy. Truth be told there are many, many leaders of the organization. A few are even considered more dangerous now. Ten years ago when we had that horrible tragedy in NY and DC something happened though. Osama became a household name. If you would have asked a million Americans who Osama bin Laden was on 9-10-01, maybe ten would have known who you were talking about. Within a week, every single one of them knew his name. To this day, he is known, feared, and sought after.
There is something that I have been struggling with for awhile now. It is not a new problem, but I feel like it is getting worse. I call it al-Qaeda ministry. The name isn’t very nice sounding. But I feel it is the best description for what I see happening at churches all across the country. For some reason we have become silo’s unto ourselves. I am not even talking about from church to church. I am talking about within each church. We have youth ministry, a kids ministry, a senior adults ministry, small groups, choir, and young families. Each working towards their own goal. Each of these ministries is small, mobile, and decentralized, operating independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. Even the leaders of these ministries barely know higher up’s in the other ministries.
Just like Osama, when one member of our church succeeds, it rarely seems to bring up the rest of the ministries. It does seem to uplift that person and their ministry only. There are a ton of reasons why this structure doesn’t work. Inevitably, there are ministries that are more glamorous, and will attract more, and talents leaders. But then there are ministries that are always struggling to find help. Is their ministry any less important? I talk a lot about different churches working together toward the common good. But until we understand that within the walls of our own church, it does no good.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (The Message)
If you are a leader and have people under you in church, I dare you to start “loaning” your leaders to other ministries. I challenge you to make it a requirement for “your” people to help other ministries once a month. Seems like a crazy thought to most of us. But I say the idea that they are “your” people is even crazier. If you are lay leader in any department or ministry, I dare you to go and find a ministry that is struggling and needs help any time you can. I know you just love your worship ministry, but they need help in the preschool class, and that is just as important. Stop being a part of a ministry and be a part of the church. Don’t dare to sit there and watch an outreach or event from some other department fail if you can help it succeed. Make a difference. Change the world.
peace – love – recycle