Patrick Lencioni’s book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars is more interesting than it sounds. In it the New York Time best-selling business author and Harvard Business professor outlines the dangers of these organizational cancers and gives leaders a sober prognosis: dismantle them or they will dismantle you. 

A highly regarded business consultant, Lencioni has worked with the likes of Jack Welch, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. But it was not his interaction with these men that led him to write this book. Rather, it was a painful trip to the emergency room where he observed what he later called “the most effective team I have ever seen”. Lencioni writes: “every single attendant quickly and selflessly worked as a team, doing what was needed to get the job done. There were no egos, cliques or nurses sulking in the corner murmuring “it was my turn to do CPR…”. Why? Because there was no time for such behavior. Their mission, in this case easing Lencioni’s immense pain, was far too urgent for silos, politics and turf wars. In was this experience that taught Lencioni that:

“Silos, politics and turf wars often exist where mission and urgency do not.”

Though intended for business leaders, I couldn’t help but to apply this to our churches and denomination. No emergency room, hospital or battlefield demands a tithe of the urgency that hell does and yet we often spend more time protecting our reputations, committees, jobs, and turf than standing together for the gospel. According to Lencioni, these are clear indications that we have forgotten the urgency of our mission.

This is not a new problem.

In Mark 9 and 10 we find the disciples engaged in a first century example of silos, politics, and turf wars. With their sight still fatigued from the blinding rays of the transfiguration, James and John boldly ask Jesus to allow them to sit at His right and left hand. Other accounts (Luke 9:46-48, Matthew 18) describe the disciples arguing over who was greatest among them, possibly feet from where they had just witnessed Jesus perform miracles.

It is difficult for me to ready this account without being both astonished and struck to the core. I am astonished that they could even conceptualize having such a conversation in light of what they had just witnessed but also convicted that I am guilty of the same on a daily basis. Like the disciples debating their rank minutes after Jesus performed miracles (Mark 10:35-45), we often quietly silence the cosmic urgency of the gospel with another gospel and another kingdom; one mired by silos, politics, and turf wars.

There is little doubt: silos, politics and turf wars are deadly in emergency rooms. But much more serious, they are damning in the church. I’m grateful to God for this reminder as we all labor together for the church.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
Matthew 28:19