The Collaborative Church
You can find collaboration just about anywhere in today's world. Collaboration is found in the music industry as artists from different backgrounds, whose music is from different genres, collaborate on songs together; meanwhile, bands comprised of multiple members utilize their talents to make chart topping music. In sports, both on a collegiate level and professional level, men and women from different parts of the world collaborate to win games and compete for championships. Even in the workplace collaboration is common as employees, clients, and vendors correspond like never before. The Internet is filled with collaboration whether it's blogs, Reddit, YouTube, Google Drive, in fact the Internet itself is just one big collaboration. Collaboration is everywhere you look. Yet, one place you’ll almost never see collaboration is in the Church.
The only thing rarer than seeing a church's leadership collaborate with its members is seeing one
church collaborate with another church. Why is that an entire group of people that believe in the same Christ haven't embraced relational collaboration? It's because the Church is the only one that has bought the lie that in order to work together you must have beliefs that perfectly align. Only in church will you see people decide who they will work with based on if they share all the same beliefs.
Does everyone on the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots share the same beliefs on gun control? Of course not, but they still worked together and won a Super Bowl. Does every member of the Dave Matthews Band share the same political views? Yet, somehow they managed to be one of the biggest musical acts in the world. Still, a local church won't work together with another to help the community they dwell in because one believes in spiritual gifts the other doesn't.
Local communities are suffering from the church's lack of partnership. Think of the amazing ways communities around the globe could be served and cared for if a group of local churches worked together instead of exclusively. You don't have to believe the same as someone to work with them. The only thing that needs to be shared to work with someone is a common goal.
Every church should have three goals:
1. Spread the Good News of Jesus
2. Advance the Kingdom
3. Serve the local community
Since every church should have these goals in common, every church should be able to work together. In fact, if a church doesn't have these goals, it shouldn't exist.
If you look to the owners and CEO's of any Forbes 500 company you'll find they share one common belief—collaboration. The most successful companies are led by people who value working with and having the opinions of others. These leaders don't claim to know everything or have all the answers, and that allows them to hear from employees no matter their pay grade. Taking time to work with and listen to employees with different opinions allows leaders to gain insightful perspectives to better strengthen the company.
Lack of collaboration is why so many churches are weak. Churches whose leadership refuses to collaborate and listen to its members end up thinking they have all the answers and hold their churches back. It is true that a church's leadership is responsible for all final decisions, just like senior leadership is in corporations in the secular world, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't value the opinions and insights of its members. Collaboration performed in accordance to biblical standards will never hurt a church, but a lack of collaboration always will.
The New Testament always speaks in the context of the universal body of Christians—the Church. Jesus knew there were going to be different denominations within the church. He knew some Christians would take the Book of Genesis literally and some wouldn't. He knew some would support the inclusion of female pastors and some wouldn’t. Yet, He still called us to work together as one Body of Christ. Jesus intended church to be a collective effort with churches within the Body working together. Nothing breaks His heart more than to see individual churches work alone, refusing to co-labor with one another. Until collaboration becomes the norm in the Church, failure to accomplish Jesus’ command will continue to be widespread.
-Aaron Nowell Creator & Author, Christian Alcoholic
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