Of all the people in the world, Christians should work together! By the same token, of all the institutions in the world, churches should partner warmly and joyfully with each other. With humble excitement, local congregations, denominations, Christian ministries, and Christian movements should seek to work in harmony for the sake of Jesus, our common Lord. The Christian mission is the most important calling in the history of the world. It is epic, global, massive, and impossible if God’s people and churches won’t work as partners!
Here is the challenge. We simply don’t play well together. Christians, churches, and pastors can be territorial, protective, selfish, and shortsighted. With that in mind, here are five “Dares” I would like to give to pastors, churches, and all followers of Jesus. If you are willing to take these dares seriously, God will bless you and launch you into a new level of fruitfulness in ministry.
- See other churches as partners, not as competition.
When a new church announced that they would be starting in a local theatre, the leaders of the largest church in town did something shocking. They did not see this new church as competition. They did not worry if this new church might cut into their “market share.” Instead, they did three things. First, they began praying for the new church. They asked God to bless and grow this brand new ministry. Second, they reached out and sought to establish a friendship with the new pastor. They gave a warm greeting! Third, they asked one simple question, “What do you need to succeed?” The new church responded, “We don’t have a sound system to bring in and out of the theater where we will be gathering for worship.” The larger established church responded quickly by offering, as a gift, a sound system that would serve the new church.
Holy Dare… love other local churches, pray for them, and see them as family, not enemies! And, help out whenever you can.
- Serve your community together as a united body and not a fragmented solo-act.
In 2016 the church started a one-day community service effort called Love Our Central Coast. They engaged in about twenty-five distinct ministries of service that extended love, help, and grace to their community. The next year they did it again, but this time they partnered with five other local churches. This allowed them to ramp up almost twice as many projects and fifty percent more volunteers serving the community together. The acts of service sent a clear gospel message, but what many of the people in the community commented on was that it was nice to see churches working together!
Holy Dare… Identify one or two ministries you do in your church and invite another church to come alongside and serve with you!
Note: If you want to read an amazing story of local churches partnering with each other, and their city, check out Kevin Palau’s excellent book, Unlikely…Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel to live out the gospel.
- Give away your best ideas.
About thirty years ago I began helping local churches move from being inwardly to outwardly focused. I use the term, “Organic Outreach”. One of my commitments and passions is to give away everything I possibly can. My wife and I founded Organic Outreach International and we have set up a website (www.organicoutreach.org) with all of our best ideas and resources. Everything on the website is free! We do ask you to register for access, but the registration is also free.
We are so committed to giving things away that we have many resources in both English and Spanish on our site. We’ll be adding additional languages as we press forward. As we tell people that they can find free resources that provide everything they need to do a five-year journey of church transformation toward outreach on our website, they are always amazed!
Holy Dare… If you have a great idea for personal or church outreach, give it away. If you don’t know who to share it with, contact the Organic Outreach offices and share it with us. We’ll help you get the word out!
Note: For total disclosure, the three books on Organic Outreach (for Ordinary People, for Families, and for Churches) are owned by a publishing house, so they are not free. But, we do all we can to make them available at a discount to any church who wants to see a powerful work of evangelism. Visit www.ChurchSource.com/organicoutreach
- Pray for and aggressively bless the other churches and ministries in your community.
There is power in prayer. What message would it send to your church and other congregations in your community if once a month you called another church and asked for one or two key prayer needs? How would they respond if you said, “We plan to pray for your church in our weekend service”? I can assure you, the other churches would be blessed and encouraged. Also, your congregation would have a new vision of partnership and collaborative ministry if they spent time praying for other local Christian congregations during their worship services.
Holy Dare… Make a commitment to pray for every local church when you walk or drive past their building. If you have influence on what happens in your church services, make a commitment to pray for other local churches during your worship service.
- Connect and build relationships with leaders from other churches.
Every time I hear about a new church starting or a new pastor coming to serve a congregation in our community, I reach out and ask if I can take them to lunch (my treat!). Take a guess what percentage of pastors say yes and agree to go out for a free lunch.
I wish I could say 100%. I would be thrilled if 75% said yes. The truth is, I am batting about 500 in this department. About half of the pastors I reach out to are willing to meet, share a meal, get to know each other, and pray together. This still amazes me. I would think that the free lunch alone would inspire more pastors to say yes.
Though only about 50% of the pastors I invite to lunch say yes, I can assure you that 100% of the time I have these lunches it is glorious and encouraging for both of us! Just a week before writing this article I met with a great leader who pastors a wonderful church, Great Victory Temple, in Seaside. I met him for the first time at a community service event that six churches partnered on. I discovered that he had become the lead pastor after a couple of decades serving in other capacities. When I asked him about breakfast, he was thrilled! I was able to introduce him to one of my favorite Mexican Restaurants in his town. We had a blast and when I insisted on picking up the check, he said, “OK, but I am going to follow up and take you to lunch!” I can’t wait to hang out with him again.
Holy Dare… If you are a church leader or staff member, make a point of spending time getting to know, encouraging, and praying with other church leaders.
The work of the gospel is too important for us to try and accomplish it on our own. The spiritual resistance to our mission is massive. We can’t do this work alone. The good news is that we are part of God’s Church. It is time to get to know our brothers and sisters. I dare you!
(I Dare You! was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Outreach Magazine)
Dr. Kevin G. Harney is the Founder and Visionary Leader of Organic Outreach International. He is also the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Monterey, California, the author of the Organic Outreach trilogy of books, and many other books, studies, and articles, and regular contributor to Outreach Magazine.