Ministry partnerships between churches and non-profit organizations are essential in diaspora missions. This is especially true when churches have the opportunity to partner with Christian non-profit ministries.
Scripture encourages believers to work together as a unified body (1 Corinthians 12). The emphasis that Jesus placed on teamwork and unity support the concepts of ministry partnership, as well (Luke 10, John 17). Simply put, churches can accomplish more through ministry partnerships than they can own their own in most circumstances.
Unfortunately, all partnerships are not created equal. Healthy partnerships can enable a church to love and serve more people. Unhealthy partnerships create tension and conflict that harm the mission of the church. Let’s explore three essential qualities that churches need in healthy ministry partnerships.
Here’s the context in which these lessons were learned. I serve as the lead pastor of Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC) and a Send Relief missionary in Clarkston, Ga. People from more than 60 different nationalities and 120 distinct ethnic groups call Clarkston home.
CIBC is a small Southern Baptist church with a huge heart located in the middle of this diverse community. Due to its limited resources, CIBC has depended on ministry partnerships to leverage its location and space to love and serve more people in the community.
Some of our best partners are other churches that share the facility. A total of six churches share space on the CIBC property. Eight ministry partners call CIBC home, as well. These ministries allow CIBC to host after-school programs, English as a second language classes, theological education, micro-businesses and music lessons throughout the week. You can learn more about these ministries at www.cibcfamily.com.
The following insights assume a local church is considering sharing space in their facility with another church or non-profit ministry. CIBC acknowledges that different types of partnerships require different approaches.
For instance, a church may allow another organization to use its facility on a one-time basis. Or a church may partner with a secular organization like a public school in a specific activity in the community. These types of partnerships do not require 100 percent theological or philosophical alignment.
Simply put, churches can accomplish more through ministry partnerships than they can own their own in most circumstances.
However, in-depth partnerships that involve sharing space and working together toward common ministry goals do require certain qualities to be successful. Based on our experience, here are the top three essential qualities churches need for healthy ministry partnerships.
- Commitment to the gospel.
We believe Jesus is the hope of the world. Our love for Jesus motivates why we serve, what we do and how we share the good news concerning Christ. At first glance, this quality appears easy to define, pursue and protect. However, it is much more difficult in reality. People define the gospel in different ways. In diaspora ministry, it is often controversial to share Jesus or even mention His name due to cultural sensitivities. Two people can profess a strong commitment to the gospel and disagree in countless ways on how the gospel actually impacts ministry. Therefore, for healthy ministry partnerships, it is vital that you define the gospel and make sure your commitment to the gospel is the same.
- Commitment to the local church.
Jesus established the church to be the vehicle through which the kingdom of God spreads its rule and reign. Therefore, healthy ministry partners should place a high value on supporting the work of the local church. Again, this appears simple from a distance. However, some ministries unconsciously or consciously do ministry in place of the church or in spite of the church. I’ve even heard ministry partners complain that the church gets in the way of ministry. Conflict or confusion on the role of the church will always limit and harm the quality of partnership. However, a biblical view and appreciation of the local church will increase the cohesion between the church and ministry partner.
- Commitment to collaboration.
CIBC must be highly intentional encouraging the six churches and eight ministries to work together, when possible, to share information and to build relationships with each other. There is a natural drift toward siloed ministry that is disconnected from others even when you are using the same space. Each partner must be committed to pursue collaboration in a way that strengthens the overall kingdom-impact in the community. Everyone has to work hard to communicate and participate in joint efforts. Collaboration is more difficult than one would think. However, the rewards of working together are worth the sacrifice.
CIBC is committed to cultivating healthy ministry partnerships. We are not perfect, and we have much to learn. However, we know more gets accomplished and more people get to experience the love of God through healthy ministry partnerships. If we can help your church in any way, please contact us at [email protected].
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