churches partnering together

Today I took part in a monthly lunch I have with area pastors, and appreciated hearing from a couple others who joined us from a nearby city. They've done well at creating a network of churches who really work together well.

Here are some of the notes I took:

Reasons why a network like this matters:
  • God responds to our prayers.
  • All ages need to be reached for Jesus on their level:
    • Kids needs to hear about Jesus in a variety of ways.
    • Tweens need mentoring inside and outside the church.
    • High School students need character development that impacts every area of their lives.
    • Adults need to see how their congregation is linked into the larger Story of God.
  • A mentoring network can be across church lines.
  • We honor the work of those who ministered before us.
  • It keeps us from looking for a silver bullet via a conference, and makes us “stay and pray” by asking God “What do you want to do here with the talent you have?”
  • You experience the fruit of other churches/pastors praying for other congregations/pulpits.
Transferable principles:
  • Love: People will know if you love them or if they are a project. Love keeps doors open and helps people trust you because they don't feel you're in a hurry with an agenda.
    • An observation: Some of the greatest breakthroughs will happen when the timing is right and people trust you enough to see you as a resource.

  • What God wants to do in any one community is bigger than any one church: Everyone in the city can find a church that will connect with them, and pastors can help this to happen by not competing over sheep.
    • An observation: When we opt to not compare ourselves to other churches to appear better/healthier/edgier, the inverse ripple is that we model commitment to the Kingdom, which in turn helps church attendees become less consumers.

  • Serve versus scold: Some churches are more known for pointing fingers versus serving needs.
    • An observation: The physical analogy reveals a spiritual one - pointing a finger only allows you to close a door; open hands can open doors.

  • Prayer: Spending time in prayer makes us spend time in God together. Pray people come to a saving knowledge in Christ, and grow in favor/wisdom.
    • An observation: It will be difficult to get everyone to show up in large numbers every time. It’s up to each person in such a network to not grow resentful if they are the only one able to make it that week.

  • Neutral Ground: It may help to diffuse potential tensions by not meeting at each other's churches, but instead a public or city area. “Until we all get to heaven well all have insecurities – be it parking lot envy or the dynamics of how someone else’s church is healthier than yours.”
    • An observation: I wouldn’t argue with these points, but they sadden me. Maybe a long-term goal is for the location to not even need to be neutral?

  • Focus on essentials: Bring Christ into central focus without feeling like you need to abandon your distinctives. Get to know those “other perspectives” without arguing, unless it is an issue of sin. Worry less about trying to get them to think “straight, like you do” versus thinking about what it means to follow Jesus.
    • An observation: There will need to be some basic creed that pastors agree on, or else groups that want to be included but really aren’t like-minded will water down the ultimate goal.

  • Let the doors open - don't force them: God is always at work. Hop on for the ride with a serving towel ready.
    • An observation: It may be hard on your pride, but you may not be the person who opens the door you’ve been knocking on for years. Another person/pastor/church may be able to get the answer, but if you see them as co-laborers it’s a win for the Kingdom.

  • Real ministry is always incarnational: The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. We try programs all the time, but the ministry that transforms lives is people revealing Jesus.
    • An observation: Ministry often is easiest to jump into from afar from from adrenaline, but it's the commitment to "not go anywhere" that lets real life change happen in you and through you.

  • Relational connections with each other make ministry do-able: When you have to deal with grumpy church critics or tough situations, your church can empathize with your role but only your peers can "get it" and its affects on your household.
    • An observation: Amen.
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth." (3 John 1:5-8)

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