It excites me greatly to see God at work through partnerships.
Through the years, I have been involved with quite a few partnerships in ministry. Some have succeeded tremendously. Others have not done as well.
How can you know when it is right to lock arms with other organizations in pursuit of a God-given vision? What can you do to make those partnerships successful?
Different organizations have different callings from God, but they can work together well on a project if there is a shared vision. Most significantly, they can work well together if they can agree on outcomes that are mutually beneficial.
The emphasis of Christian humanitarian aid (meeting people’s physical needs) and the focus of most ministries committed to evangelism and discipleship ministries differ. However, I’ve seen such entities come together to meet more people’s physical needs, increase opportunities to share the gospel and, in turn, launch more new churches.
Callings of different organizations can be diverse, but so can strengths. Some ministries are effective in using digital methods to expose large numbers of people to the gospel. A local church, though, is likely more experienced at assimilating new converts into fellowship and following up on the ground in personal discipleship and communities of faith.
No partner should waver from its calling and mission – the work it does best – but rather use its strengths to complement those of other organizations.
The value of most partnerships among ministries and churches is increased fruitfulness – an advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Generally, organizations should partner when they can accomplish more together than could be achieved apart. Several churches or ministries might consider coming together to share legal, financial or communications expertise and expenses to lessen some redundancy of work. Doing so could free-up added resources (e.g., manpower) to accomplish more in the field leading to more converts, disciples and new church-plants.
There is a big difference between talking about something and taking effective action. Partnership projects should have a purpose toward which all of the partners who commit can be motivated to be involved.
In July 2000 there was a meeting of several hundred missions leaders. They were discussing the many unreached people groups who had no one even trying to reach them. God touched our hearts in a powerful way to realize that we needed to commit to take dramatic action. Within a week the Table 71 partnership was formed. In the 17 years since, by God’s grace, we’ve seen absolutely remarkable results.
Don’t partner if you can’t commit to engage significantly. However, with motives pure and organizations all-in, who knows how a new partnering venture might transform the landscape of a community, a campus or even a nation.
Where differences exist, so can comparisons. Considering ourselves better than others and looking down on others is sin.
“In humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
No single person, church or ministry has all of the perspective, strategies or resources that are needed to fulfill God’s Great Commission. We are arrogant to think otherwise. As you live out the “one another” verses of scripture – encouraging, giving and collaborating with partners in a Spirit of genuine biblical humility – God can accomplish more than you could ever dream possible.
As you contemplate entering into partnership with others, I trust these thoughts can be of value. God is pleased when His children work together in unity – especially when they do it well, with the right Spirit and in ways that make sense to all involved.
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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