The Joy of Cooperation
One of the first phone calls I received when I was called as pastor at First Southern was from another local pastor in the area. He wanted to know if I was open to meeting with him and other pastors from around the community. He was the “veteran” pastor among us – he had been in our community for two years. Most of the other like-minded churches had experienced high turnover with their lead pastor positions.
This pastor was calling all the new pastors in the area to begin a time of prayer for each church. It was his goal for all of us to meet once a month for breakfast, fellowship, and prayer.
His efforts were a success. Our once a month prayer meetings are some of the most edifying times for me. Most importantly, these informal meetings resulted in several tangible benefits for our churches.
Church unity. When like-minded pastors are unified in a community, then this unity flows into the churches. Let’s admit it – our people talk. And when the people of the church are talking about how the pastors are enjoying each other’s fellowship, then it’s a good thing.
More mission work. In our first meeting, I asked the other pastors to pray for our church as we were going to do mission work in New Orleans. After my request, another pastor stated that they were going to New Orleans during the same time period. We learned a lesson – one of cooperative missions. Now we open each mission trip to other church members. The result? Since we are partnering on these trips, sharing the burden, we can do more work.
Stronger fellowship. Guess what? When churches partner for missions, not only is more work accomplished, but stronger fellowship results as well. Last Saturday, I spoke at another church’s brotherhood breakfast. Their pastor wanted me to encourage them to work with our men on local projects. I was surprised to see a few of my own church members there. The fellowship was organic, not coerced. And we’re going to have some extra help on our next local missions project as well.
Needed openness. Sometimes a life change prompts a person or family to consider moving to another church. When these occasions occur, pastors with a strong sense of unity can honestly discuss the process without feeling twinges of competition or suspicion.
Prayer support. Prayer is the foundation of every ministry. I am personally grateful for the continued prayer support from my friends at other churches.
Joy. Perhaps the most unanticipated benefit was the unparalleled joy of working with other pastors and churches for a common mission. When I see the smiles of people from different churches cooperating for the same cause of meeting the community in their own context, it brings a sense of joy to me as a pastor knowing that they have this same joy in their hearts.
This list certainly is not all-inclusive. What other benefits have you experienced through cooperative missions at your church?