When I was a child and my parents would go away on a trip, I was always a bit anxious for their return and was always so glad to see them when they got home. Looking back now at those times, I can honestly say that I was mostly just selfish in wanting to see the gift they got me while they were away! This is a tradition our family started years ago and still practices when we travel. We typically grab something small to simply say ‘I was thinking about you”.
I can’t help but think of my family’s ‘gift-giving’ tradition when I read Ephesians 4, as it describes Christ’s ascension and giving of gifts to the body of Christ. It’s like Christ has gone on this trip and he picked up these spiritual gifts for us! But it is also a beautiful picture of the growth, development and unity of the body, too. When we as the body of Christ use the gifts He has given us, we grow closer and closer into the fullness of Christ and His purpose for us.
As people who live on support, we have a need for people, we have a need for partnership. Partnerships extend beyond the financial support and give others an opportunity to use the church’s gifts as we do ministry together.
When I think about the word partner a few things come to mind:
- Joint effort
- Shared ownership
When it comes to building partnerships and relationships with churches, these are the three things that we want! We want their help in getting the work done, we want the connection and the care to keep us encouraged and healthy and we want them to know that this is their ministry or project, too.
Whether you are in ministry currently or preparing to launch into ministry, you already know that there is only so much time, energy or resources. We could all use an extra set of hands and feet to help us in the ministry God has laid out for us.
This is where the church comes into play.
Our churches are filled with people who have unending resources ready to be used for God’s glory. In fact, it is when those skills and talents are being used that God’s church is living up to its God-given potential.
Ephesians 4:11-13 shares the importance of equipping believers to use their gifts so that we can bring glory to the body of Christ, be united in the faith and grow in our relationships with Christ.
“And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”
We play a role in the maturing and unity of the body of Christ when we invite the church to serve with us.
Let’s look at 4 things you can do to move your supporting churches into partner churches and help them mature in their faith and walk with the Lord:
You and your prayer team (yes, you need one of these) should be praying by name for the churches you will approach. Ask God to prepare you and the church for what you are going to be asking them to do in ministry with you.
Know who you are meeting with. Find out what your church is known for or is currently involved in and see if you can find a connection that will help in your future partnerships. Build relationships with individuals in the church beyond the leadership so you can stay connected to the people and the resources they have.
Do not limit your ask to finances. Have a clear point of invitation to get involved in the work you are or will be doing. Ask them to dream with you for future ministry. Ask them to join you in current ministry. Be specific to share needs and ways they can take ownership of the ministry with you. It can be administrative support they can do from home (social media, newsletters, organization…) It can be travel coordination for your Short-Term Journey teams. It can be educational in preparing for the next phase of ministry or leadership development as you learn how to lead and grow the work.
4. GIVE BACK
Partnerships are two sided, meaning you work together on a mutual vision and you help them in accomplishing their side of the vision. What are you able to give them to help strengthen and expand their kingdom impact? Know where their church is heading, where they are serving, what they are doing and find a way to contribute to that vision.
As you begin or continue in your support and partnership development consider how you can create long-lasting, engaged partnerships with the local church. Take time to consider ways to invite The Church to join you in ministry on both a small and large scale. Spend time in prayer asking God how you can begin helping others step into their God given roles by asking them to use their gifts. As you invite others to do ministry with you, consider the bigger impact you are making as you invite people to step closer and closer into the fullness of Christ.
This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions. Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.