In my last article, I discussed two key components for successful church planting: prioritizing and preparing. By prioritizing, I meant establishing “church planting” in the DNA of your church’s mission. By preparing, I meant sending out church planters and team members that are fully equipped. In this article, I want to address the third component of pastoring a church that plants churches. That third component is partnerships.
We can do more together than we can on our own. I doubt anyone would argue against that idea, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. It feels easier and less complicated to do it on our own, preferring our way as the best way, unencumbered by the potential milieu of challenges partnerships present. But my pushback on that is: What about learning from each other? What about considering better ways of doing ministry? What about the strength of ministering together instead of solo? What about your wisdom and gifts being used to bless other ministries? Effective church planting means strategic partnerships.
This is one reason why I appreciate Calvary Global Network’s emphasis on collaborating for the kingdom. It’s clear that the vision of CGN is: big picture partnerships that facilitate healthy ministry relationships, leverage expertise and experience, and unite likeminded people in order to grow God’s kingdom for His glory. Strong partnerships make flourishing ministries. In this article, I want to suggest three key ingredients to having healthy partnerships.
1) Servant Attitude:
The purpose of partnerships isn’t to be served, but to serve. Of course, there is the strategic piece to partnerships that enables you to execute the mission of your church more effectively. But the disposition of each partner must be to serve the other. Certainly, this was the mindset of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 20:28). Servant-oriented partnerships provide the soil to grow humility, transparency, love and unity. This will assist in eliminating conflict that’s generated by pride, ego, self-centered ambitions and ungodly agendas. Of course, that would never happen in ministry (smile). This also causes the partnership to be of greater mutual benefit.
For example, we have an “Awaken Crusade” in Mexico City happening in 2019. We partner with well over 100 churches and organizations with the goal of, equipping churches to evangelize, reaching the impoverished with food, medical care and clothing, through an event called Blessfest, hosting a major evangelistic crusade and conducting church planting training conferences. The local church leaders have been overwhelmingly gracious to us, catching the vision, engaging their congregations and providing people to serve. As a result, people will be saved, the saved will be equipped and more churches will be planted!
Having a servant’s heart creates partnerships that are relational. Partnerships do not exist to just execute an initiative. While that may be true for institutions, it’s not true for the church, which is a living organism composed of people. Honestly, sometimes I can become more focused on the system that is executing the goal, than I am on the people who are doing the work. That leads me to be impatient, uncaring and unrealistic expectations I place on others.
Collaborating for God’s kingdom means investing time in people and developing relationships founded in love, being unified in the Spirit, and having like-minded theology and ministry philosophy. Taking the time to develop these relationships makes partnerships a joy instead of a burden and maximizes their effectiveness. But not only that, these types of partnerships have the greatest capacity for alignment in theology and ministry philosophy. What’s the point of partnering if you are not going in the same direction? As the Scriptures say, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (cf. Amos 3:3). Relational partnerships not only begin with alignment, but deepen the alignment over the course of time, making them stronger.
Finally, healthy partnerships are complimentary. There’s no reason to partner if it means unnecessary redundancy. Be honest about the areas that are weak in your ministry and prayerfully consider partnering with an organization that can fill those areas in a way that is excellent. A few years back, we decided that we needed to engage an organization that excels in equipping Christians in apologetics. By God’s grace, a strategic partnership with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries was birthed and has become an integral part of our church.
Areas of partnership include: a regular rotation of world class speakers equipping the congregation, utilizing their home group curriculum called Everyday Questions, developing apologetics curriculum for our Christian School, hosting a ReBoot event to address relevant issues facing our youth, sending evangelists to RZIM’s Emerging Apologists Program and working together to reach the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. It would be impossible for us to replicate what RZIM brings to the table. Working strategically together enables us to fulfill our mission more effectively.
Years ago, a handful of us in New England had the desire to reach Canada with the gospel. Most of our churches were really small, and we felt by ourselves there was little that we could do. But we banded together, created Calvary Chapel French Outreach Initiative, and partnered with a Calvary in Montreal. God blessed the fruit of those labors! We discovered that what we were unable to do on our own, we were able to do together. Two truly are better than one (cf. Ecclesiastes 4:9).