When the Great Commission is central in a partnership, many benefits are experienced that would otherwise be unknown had the partnering entities continued working individually. But gospel partnerships do not always work out. At times there are many hindrances to successfully partnering with others in the work of gospel ministry. Over the course of two blog posts I will be discussing the potential benefits and hindrances of kingdom-minded partnerships. The first post will look at the benefits of partnering with others in ministry; the second will look at the hindrances that can often make partnering difficult.
YOU’VE GOT FIVE MINUTES
I can usually tell within the first five minutes of a conversation whether or not I want to enter into a proposed partnership. I want to see a fire in their eyes for the Great Commission, a zeal for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a passion for healthy churches. As a local church pastor I consistently find myself bombarded with partnership-related conversations. Within an average week, I may find our church approached by other local pastors wanting to join together in ministry, any number of church planting networks wishing to partner, fraternities on campus wanting to advertise their fundraiser in our bulletin, the city desiring our help with a community event, pregnancy crisis centers requesting to partner with us, or college parachurch organizations requesting to use our facilities. With a multitude of potential partnerships like this at our disposal, it is essential for us to have a clear focus of our own objectives as a church. That’s why the first five minutes are so crucial. If a potential partner isn’t casting Great Commission vision in the first five minutes, then they’re wasting my time.
Although we only partner with a small percentage of the organizations at the table, we are always willing to explore new opportunities for partnerships. We understand that kingdom-minded partnerships are high risk, high reward. Because the gospel is at stake, the hindrances and risks for potential error are great. However, because the gospel – the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ – is at stake, the potential benefits are also great! When this gospel – this good news – is central to a given partnership, several benefits can be expected.
1. Multiplication of Resources
When we partner there is an incredible opportunity for us to grow exponentially in our influence. There are ways to partner on every level, from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to the North American Mission Board (NAMB); from the North American Church Planting Foundation (NACPF) to Generation LINK. These entities, though differing in number and reach, each exist to help churches by providing manpower, money, and resources. When we come together for gospel ministry and share workers, resources, and influence, the results can be staggering. Creating a shared pool of resources evens the playing field across our networks so that from the largest urban congregation in Miami to the smallest rural congregation in Upstate South Carolina, every church is provided with the resources they need for reaching their community.
2. IMPROVED STRATEGY
Since we have all been called as Christians to obediently carry out the Great Commission, and since we cannot do it on our own, we must realize that cooperation is part of the strategy required of us. Kingdom-minded partnerships present their fair share of challenges, but they are entirely necessary in order to fulfill the Great Commission. Collaboration naturally leads to greater strategies for planting churches and spreading the gospel among the nations.
3. DIVERSITY OF IDEAS
When we come together for the common goal of reaching the nations by making disciples of Christ, we will naturally be able to pool together diverse ideas and develop them into strategies. Our other brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they differ methodologically and theologically, will inevitably see things from a perspective or angle that we might not have observed otherwise. Additionally, there will be people who have wisdom, experience, or competency in areas that you and I may not. It is crucial for us not to become closed off to others’ ideas. Keeping an open-mind will ensure that our strategies are more comprehensive, fueled in part by a more diverse bank of ideas and resources.
4. MUTUAL SANCTIFICATION
As we interact with others and listen to their ideas, we will be forced to do away with prideful and self-sufficient attitudes. Our theological frameworks will inevitably be challenged and our doctrinal systems sharpened. We will also have to maintain a posture of humility and deal with conflict in a manner that exhibits grace and the character of Christ. Also, by partnering, we are admitting that we cannot do it alone. This, too, builds character, fosters interdependence among the parties involved, and allows believers to draw upon God’s power for the purpose of extending grace to others.
5. GROWTH IN UNITY
Ephesians 2:13-16 tells us that in Jesus Christ, the walls of hostility between believers have been torn down. If Jews and Gentiles are no longer at odds, then the implications for our ministry are staggering. In Christ, the dividing walls of race, ethnicity, economic status, and denomination do not separate us. As believers, we are a new community with a great opportunity to exhibit unity in Christ. Our partnerships must prove to the world that the Good News of Jesus Christ has the power to unify those who have historically been opponents or even enemies. Those on the outside should not be able to stereotype our partnerships and networks by appealing to a specific demographic. Kingdom-minded partnerships must be marked by unified diversity: unified in the message and mission, but as diverse as the Body of Christ.
6. COMPLETION OF THE MISSION
The final and most significant benefit of gospel driven partnerships is that the Great Commission will be fulfilled. According to Matthew 24:14, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” God will certainly be glorified when his redemptive mission finally comes to fruition. How amazing it is to think that there will be a day when the Great Commission will reach completion and come to an end! There will indeed be a living and breathing generation that will see the Great Commission fulfilled. But do we really believe that this is an impending reality? Have we thoughtfully considered the actuality of such events coming to a close? If we really believe that the Great Commission can be fulfilled in our generation, we will engage in kingdom-minded partnerships that expand our potential for making disciples and planting churches.
What is your experience with kingdom-minded partnerships? What benefits have come as a result?
Jeremy Chasteen is the College Pastor at Crosspoint Church in Clemson SC and serves as the Director of Generation Link. He has a passion for developing the next generation of spiritual leaders (2 Timothy 2:2) in the home and church. He also has a passion for the church to effectively evangelize the lost and disciple people to maturity in Christ. Jeremy holds a BA from East Carolina University and an M.Div from SEBTS. Jeremy greatly values and loves his family. He married Liz in 1999 and they have four children.