I used to believe that the most effective way I could impact my city and region was to help grow a strong and healthy local church. I still affirm the importance of the local church but God has also shown me how He is honored and His mission promoted when local churches partner together well.
Here are four benefits of partnering with others locally:
Partnering clarifies your team.
I believe most pastors genuinely affirm that the Kingdom of God is bigger than their own churches but we can easily fall into thinking that it’s all about our own particular ministries. Of course, each of us needs to pastor our own local church and be responsible to serve the people God has called us to lead.
Yet it’s helpful to remember whose team we are on.
As pastors, we can see our church as our primary team. Though I advocate for robust local church membership, we should be wary of the temptation to begin viewing other churches as the “competition.” To use a football analogy, it would be as if our region is our conference made up of all our churches, each vying to be the top team who wins the championship trophy.
It would serve us well if we can shift our thinking to see other churches as members of an even larger team. May we affirm each of our churches’ distinct roles in the larger common goal of making disciples in our regions, such as the ways the offense, defense, and special teams of a football team work together in the hopes of winning the game. Instead of comparing our church to others, may we genuinely desire each church to do well because we recognize that if other churches do well, our “team” does well.
As I lead our church to partner with others, it is healthy for my soul when I am a part of something that may not seem like it is directly benefiting me.
Partnering multiplies your impact.
God is teaching me that my church can’t do every aspect of ministry well. It doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to grow in those areas but because of realistic limits of who we are and in our resources, we are just not able to do everything we would like to.
Partnership with other churches allows us to do far more than we would ever be able to do by ourselves.
When churches work together in our region, we can act as a router to distribute people to different needs other churches may have in reaching communities beyond our own. We are able to work together in conferences and training opportunities which would be challenging for any one church to do. When we partner with others, our strengths are shared and our weaknesses are supported by one another who may be strong and weak in ways that are different than us. It frees us to acknowledge that we don’t have to be amazing in everything. Some of us are more inclined to outreach, some of us are gifted in music, some of us have physical space to utilize, and some of us realistically have more resources that can be shared. When we share those together, greater power is unleashed.
When we partner together, we recognize that there is no way we will truly impact our region if we are trying to do it on our own. Our impact is multiplied when we join with others in unity.
Partnering promotes reconciliation.
I believe it is beneficial and beautiful for local churches to be a model for reconciliation across ethnic, cultural, and social lines. Yet, I want to challenge us to view reconciliation beyond the parameters of each of our own local churches. Many pastors who desire their church to reflect the diverse kingdom of God may be challenged by the reality that for many of us, visible diversity may not be something that will happen quickly, if ever. But even if it doesn’t, one way we can still strive for reconciliation is to partner together with churches who may differ culturally from our own. Whether worshipping together for special events, serving together in the community, preaching in one another’s services, or breaking bread across a table, our partnership can be an organic way to build relationships of reconciliation with others. God will strengthen your church as you and your people learn from others in ways they might not normally.
Let’s not reduce Kingdom reconciliation to the narrow boundaries of a local church.
Partnering bolsters your witness.
As Christians are sadly known in the world because of our division along different tribes and ideologies, our shared local partnership may be one of the strongest apologetics we have for the power and truth of God. Though we typically apply the truth of John 13:35 to our local church, how powerful would it be for the larger people of God in our region to be known as followers of Christ because of the deep love that is observed in our fellowship? When a society that seems to be growing increasingly chaotic and divided sees Christians from different and diverse churches worship, serve, pray, give, mourn, and rejoice together, they are given a glimpse of God as powerful as anything your church could do itself to represent God’s greatness.