John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
Mark 9:38-41 (NRSV)
For the past several months the church board has been working to create and reinforce communication within the church. Communication was one of the major points of feedback from the listening conferences. Therefore, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that everyone has access to what is going on in the life of the church.
One area which I believe deserves a good deal of our attention is the silos that can develop in any organization. In leadership circles silos are understood as the invisible barriers which keep different groups from sharing information with others in the organization. For example, say the Community Ministry committee decided to collect clothes for the SOS closet in August, but did not share that information with the Congregational Life committee. Then the Congregational Life committee might plan on collecting clothes for Victory Mission in October. The lack of communication and cooperation would certainly cause confusion, and even tension. Now, that example is not likely to happen here at Marshfield Christian Church. However, I hope it helps to give a more tangible understanding of what silos are in an organization.
Even the disciples fell prey to silos, as we see in this brief story from Mark. Jesus sends the disciples out to spread the good news in the surrounding communities, to be a part of the ministry of wholeness, healing, and reconciliation. And when they return, John happily recounts their attempts to intervene in another person’s ministry. Notice that this unnamed healer was casting out demons, in Jesus’ name. That he was doing good was not in question. The issue for John was that this healer was unknown to them.
Jesus’ rebuke is swift and pointed. “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Jesus says that the healing is what is important, not that person’s relationship to the power structures within the disciples. In essence Jesus says, “step out of your silos and celebrate God’s work in the world.” What is most important is that we, as a community of faith, are working toward bringing about wholeness and healing in the world. Whether the “right” people are in charge of the project is secondary to living out the Good News of Christ.
And yet, it is important for us to share what we are doing with one another. Not so much because we need permission, but because we want to capitalize on the power of cooperation. John, and the other disciples were focused on permission-giving, whereas Jesus shifts the focus toward working together to bring about wholeness and healing, in Christ’s name. May that be our focus as well.