All too often in our local churches when we are putting together agendas, looking to push into new frontiers, recruiting volunteers or putting together annual budgets, we tend to compete with each other. Regardless of how successful or financially blessed your church may be, there are still more needs and more great ideas than resources. God may have unlimited resources but the local church does not.
Some of the best churches have found ways to replace this competition for resources with collaboration, and it’s a huge improvement in planning as well as in execution.
When one ministry competes with another ministry or department at a church for volunteers, dollars or space, the leaders are at best looking to come out on the top of a “win-lose” outcome. Some ministry wins and the others lose.
On the other hand, collaboration between and among our ministries and departments strives to find the “win-win” outcome.
Opportunities rather than problems …
One of the best ways to collaborate and look for win-win outcomes in programing and recruiting and sharing resources is to communicate. The words we use may also be problematic in communicating well. For example, as a ministry leader and pastor I make sure that when we address issues, we typically don’t want to communicate that we have “problems,” but instead we have “opportunities.” This is not just a substitution of words but also a substitution of viewpoints.
Even if the local church has the resources, facilities or the space to do multiple things well, it’s unlikely the intended audience or participant can be in two places at the same time. Most successful churches intentionally limit the amount of opportunities that the congregation is exposed to in order to allow them to be able to choose wisely and be focused on those that are the best experiences.
Where there is no clarity, people perish …
One of the best things that senior leaders can do in the church is to bring clarity to the implementation of the vision that God has given them regarding the local church. If I were paraphrasing Proverbs 29:18, I’d likely state it this way, “Where there is no clarity, people perish.” Often, the senior or lead pastor will be able to clarify that there are great opportunities for the entire church to be involved for a season in a particular endeavor. That may be a call for people to get involved in small groups or the church may decide that it is calling everyone to a fast. Other times, it may be a time for people to choose their area of interest and let people literally vote with their participation. If the ministry leaders understand and bring clarity on where and how God is leading, collaboration flows naturally and everyone wins.
Milestones are reasons to celebrate …
For years I’ve heard churches say they want to celebrate more, but so often they actually celebrate less. While we are on a journey we rarely believe we have time to celebrate. However, God gave Moses very clear instruction on making sure that all of Israel would pause from time to time to celebrate. Israel was told to celebrate the Feast of the Passover; the people were told to celebrate the building of the Temple. Nehemiah told the people to celebrate the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. These were milestones that would only be passed once but could be celebrated often.
In the same way, churches should be celebrating that which God values. When we celebrate lives being dedicated to Christ, people being baptized, successful building or mission projects, we draw everyone’s attention to particular milestones. Celebrating the wins and achievements automatically help prioritize all of our future plans and opportunities.
When we collaborate, the Church wins.
Ken Behr is an executive pastor at Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. www.gochristfellowship.com