Monday, November 12

Working cooperatively

Baptist Press recently released a story by *Kenneth Hemphill entitled, Working cooperatively for Kingdom advancement. Far too many of us are out there seeking to build our own little kingdoms. Little do we think in terms of working cooperatively to build THE Kingdom.

We tend to be "loners" with the "I can do it myself" attitude. When we work alone, it is tempting to claim the credit for what is accomplished. Some churches today expend energy and resources for global advancement only in settings where they can control what is accomplished and take the credit for the accomplishment. It is easy to rally people to give when we can build something, take a picture of it, and then boast that "we did this." It is harder to get people involved in a project that is so large that no one can take credit for what is accomplished. But a global strategy requires Kingdom thinking and Kingdom cooperation which ultimately allows God to get all the credit. We sometimes forget that He is the only scorekeeper that matters.

No single passage describes the attitude necessary for cooperative ministry better than Philippians 2:1-11... what should be the attitude of our heart and mind? "Fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" ...

What if we really took this passage seriously? What would change about how we do church and missions? Do you think the spirit of church business meetings would change? Does your church have one mind and one goal? Do we see more rivalry than we see cooperation?

Following are seven reasons we must seek cooperation and partnerships:

1. It is biblical. The Bible is full of examples where cooperation is the norm for those who are one body in Christ.

2. It provides for strength and stability. The wise king Solomon declared, "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts ... a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

3. It promotes unity in diversity. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compared the church to the human body which has many diverse but equally important parts. The diversity of the body parts is actually fundamental to its unity.

4. It enables strategic thinking which enables us to maximize effectiveness and minimize waste. Paul's desire to unite the churches in Achaia and Macedonia demonstrates the need for strategic thinking. Missiologists tell us that about 1.56 billion people remain who have little or no access to the Gospel. We can ill afford to duplicate effort and waste the King's resources by failing to work cooperatively to complete the task of world evangelization.

5. It provides a biblical model for other churches. When you read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 you will discover that Paul wanted the generosity of one church to provide a model for other churches. By working cooperatively in our mission strategy we can ensure that the churches we plant have the DNA to be cooperative.

6. It enables Kingdom advancement. For the sake of the Kingdom, we must be willing to move beyond church growth to Kingdom advancement.

7. It ensures that God will receive all the glory. We sometimes get so caught up in our little world of ministry that we forget that all we do has a single aim -- the glory of God.

Can we afford to do any less than our best when we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords? Too much is at stake for us not to work cooperatively.

*Kenneth S. Hemphill is the national EKG (Empowering Kingdom Growth) strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention.


Anonymous said...

Cooperation? I vaguely remember that word. It is why I became Southern Baptist. I needed a reason to be SBC other than a fondness for fried chicken, and that was reason was cooperation.

I have to tell you, I am more than a little disappointed in the lack of cooperation coming out in the blogs and news reports right now. I am more than a little discouraged that the Gospel is taking a backseat to an orthodoxy that is far beyond what has made us cooperative.

I am not going to ID myself anymore than I have. I hope the powers that be can get back to seeing the vast lossness around us.

An anonymous M

GuyMuse said...

Anon. M,

I couldn't agree with you more. Part of the reason I posted this was to highlight just how LITTLE real cooperation there is. To me it was ironic this piece was published in the midst of all the uproar. What was also interesting to me is that you are the FIRST to even comment. It seems the subject of harmony, cooperation, unity are themes quickly disappearing from the SBC scene. I too am shocked at the way global missions are taking a backseat to all the controversies going on. Can't we see that the real enemy is Satan who is succeeding in getting our eyes off Jesus and onto one another?