Today in our rural churches, we hear more people talking about partnerships. The motivation that often drives that discussion is numbers: smaller church attendance, fewer financial resources to pay a pastor or church worker and fewer pastors and church workers to call. These are all valid reasons to talk about partnership ministries, but the conversation has to be centered on the partnership of the Gospel. The partnership of the Gospel needs to be the center that connects ministries to work together. It needs to be about strengthening the body of believers and being Christ’s salt and light to the disconnected and unchurched.
- Relationship between two or more people or organizations that are involved in the same activity
- Cooperation between people or groups working together
- A group of people working together for some purpose
- A company owned by partners where people put money into the partnership and share financial risk and profits
- Partners are people who make up a partnership collectively
In the past, dual and multi parishes were usually arranged to share a pastor, and there was very little partnering together to do ministry and mission. The definition of partnership gives us five words to think about when we develop working partnerships. They are relationships, cooperation, purpose, share and collective group. Partnerships only work when they are held together by strong, personal relationships.
Ministries that are looking at working partnerships need to develop relationships before they decide to be partners. Some examples could be joint worship services, joint VBS — perhaps hosting it in a neighboring community where there is not an LCMS church — a joint mission trip or a joint youth group. The sky is the limit for different activities that can be done to build relationships with each other.
We are reminded in Ecclesiastes that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! … And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Contributed by the Rev. Richard Boring LCMS Executive for Mission and Revitalization — LCMS Nebraska District