When I led the strategic architecture vision at USAA for all things digital, the most significant challenge was to give the appearance that all of our lines of business (LOB) operated as one enterprise. This was part of our vision of customer centricity and simplicity. Yet behind the well-designed screens of our website, there was almost no commonality or interaction. The website was simply a façade used to mask the reality that our LOBs operated as unintegrated “silos.” While that was a potential problem for customers, it was beneficial to enable each LOB to operate independently, otherwise decision-making would be too arduous if everyone had to agree. Fast forward twenty years, usaa.com is considered to be one of the best financial services websites in the world and its business has tripled in this timeframe. It completed its transformational journey.

Comparatively speaking, the Church is far more complex in its structure, traditions, culture, and practices. Enjoining congregations to partner will be exponentially more challenging. Yet, the opportunity to impact the world in its transformation cannot be overstated. The vast majority of churches value the same quality—organizational autonomy. This is frequently touted within their mission statement as a benefit. This culture of independence often devolves into isolation and division. But like USAA, it is important to not have to confront this strong preference to become more Kingdom-centered. Instead, we can make the Church appear to be less siloed by integrating their respective information.

This paper will describe how this can be accomplished technically although it is clear that we will need to address the propensity for church leaders to remain private and isolated. It is unrealistic that church leaders would agree to a comprehensive church directory, especially with other congregations that they are not associated with. In the Internet era, this has been solved. An excellent example is the website (and mobile app) Yelp. In fact, Yelp has a nice directory of about everything, including local churches.

When I was sharing this idea at a meeting with church elders, I asked them, “how many churches like ours are in a 10-mile radius?” This immediately prompted a discussion focused on the question,

How do you determine what churches are like ours?

While it would be easier to simply use denominational affiliation, we all know that many congregations are similar despite being aligned to different organizations. Collectively, the church elders estimated about 5 churches were within 10-miles, yet they were shocked to learn that there were more than 20!

To facilitate the Church to become more Kingdom-centered, we need to get to know each other. We can’t partner if we don’t know who’s on the team—especially within the same community. I believe we can establish a directory of churches plus itinerant ministries and charitable organizations as a tool to integrate the Church. Much of this information exists but it is not integrated nor maintained by its owners.

This presents challenges beyond creating simple web pages as part of www.waitingonus.com. It will require data feeds from various organizations along with self-maintenance. Like Yelp, the core data can be fed from sources such as Willliams Direct, a compendium of church data designed for direct marketing. It would be ideal if churches would adopt their page and maintain it directly. Yelp enables business owners to “claim” their respective page enabling them to update it as needed.

Since there is no overall owner of this data, the aggregation and integration of this database must be a neutral organization—not associated with any denomination. This is a key learning from the research on unity. Most leaders view unity as everyone joining THEIR organization or embracing THEIR beliefs and traditions. We will use a generic, inclusive domain such as hischurch.org or one-church.io or jesus-church.io.

This integrated database will enable the 5-phase program described in the book, especially the middle 3:

• Becoming Cohesive Parts
• Cultivate Genuine Partnerships
• Restructure, Reallocate, Realign

This is essential to discover other churches and ministries based on common interests and existing relationships not just by the leadership, but to include the current and former members.

Receive the latest news in your email
More articles