Seventeen years ago, I took my wife, Willeke, to an island for our honeymoon and it was there that our love and fascination with islands began.
Though each island has its own climate, natural resources and culture, there are few islands that can “survive” without associating with the mainland or other islands. From the early days, islanders have found ways to connect through trade, the exchange of ideas and a desire to grow their standard of living.
So how does this all relate to Christian ministries?
I believe that every church or mission organization that works in isolation, “on an island,” will eventually die. It will not grow and develop to its full potential.
In the past, time, money and resources were spent to build up each individual work, but it’s time to change this way of thinking and acting. If Christian ministries will stop working on their own, there will be opportunity for more kingdom fruit. This value of synergy is the reason why kingdom partnerships have been the foundational building blocks of the Jesus.net network from its very beginning. So, what are some of the key principles that are crucial to see healthy kingdom partnerships?
I’ll limit it to 3 main principles for now: 1. Kingdom thinking, 2. Complementing each other and 3. Working on the basis of trust and accountability.
Too often we think that we are the ones doing the work. But God is at work 24/7. Henry T. Blackaby (author of Experiencing God) says,
“God invites you to become involved with Him in His work. We need to see where God is at work and join Him there!”
This takes a bit of the pressure off of us but not our responsibility to join Him. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom …” So, despite the great history of your ministry, at the end of the day, it’s God’s work! Humbling, isn’t it?
Knowing and applying the principle of kingdom thinking also keeps you from seeing another ministry as competition.
The word “complement” is to make something else seem better or more attractive when combining with it.
So, we are co-workers in His kingdom. And by working together, we make something/someone else better and more attractive. We can’t do it all ourselves.
So, in order to reach our common mission, get to know each other, build friendships, identify your own strong points, see where your weaker points are. And see where others can strengthen you and vice-versa. The way to do this? By defining a common vision, pilot projects and learning from each other.
Jesus gave a great example of complementing each other when he sent the disciples out two by two. And Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 underlines this principle as well:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (New Living Translation).
In today’s world, trust and accountability are becoming scarce commodities. As Christian ministries, we should be in the business of showing and proving that trust (the belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something) and accountability (willing and capable to take responsibility for something and being transparent about where you stand) are two key building blocks for a strong society.
The same is true in ministry work. Trust and accountability build ownership. Matthew 5:37 says, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Berean Study Bible). By intentionally investing in relationships, we build trust. This mutuality happens through sharing our personal stories, spending time together and showing trust and forgiveness with each other when things go different than we expected.
Accountability is not something of which to be afraid. By showing others what you’ve done with that which God or others have entrusted to you, we embrace good stewardship. So, the next time you report on what you and your ministry have been doing with the donations entrusted to you, do it from the perspective of building trust and accountability.
Ultimately, kingdom partnerships are not about transactions, but about transformation. It’s not “what can I get from you, and what do you want from me?”. It’s about what has God given me to share with you so we can complement (complete) one another. This attitude and action will ensure lasting fruit in your partnership with God and others.
Jesus.net is a global network of more than seventy Christian organizations and ministries engaged in online evangelism and discipleship. A large number of Cru ministries are part of this network.
More on Jesus.net
Working together brings strength, divine blessings, victory, effectiveness as a witness of Jesus, and increased fruitfulness – and God receives glory. But often we don’t work in a coordinated way. We stray from maximizing our efforts and minimizing duplication.
If we are sincere about taking the gospel to the world, it means we need to do some things differently and we cannot do it alone. It’s going to take partners, affiliates, volunteers – even “competing ministries.”
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