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By Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter
Vibrant Faith Coaching Team

Fall is on our doorstep, and that means we’re already working to reinvent what we do to spur new energy, spiritual vitality, attendance, and contributions. But what if you could produce that same energy without re-tooling the ministry programs you’re already doing? We’ve just launched an experiment that does just that through the power of partnering

We’ve formed a partnership with three other churches in our area for the purpose of sharing our ministry offerings with one another—they’re all within a 10-minute drive of our church. The goal is to combine all the great experiences each congregation has developed individually, creating a comprehensive list so that everyone from all four congregations can collectively take advantage of the Bible studies, mission opportunities, book studies, support groups, and other ministries represented. We are beginning a journey of working together instead of competing with each other. The power of partnering contributes to our faith formation.

Once we compiled the list of all the opportunities, we created a ministry catalog that we distributed to 6,000 homes from the four congregations. Now, your partnership may represent far fewer homes, but you’d be surprised by the extent of your reach into the community when you combine your efforts with other like-minded, ministry-minded churches. What a powerful opportunity for you live out the variety embedded in the Body of Christ. Congregations are stronger when we work together to surface our strengths, then share those strengths through the power of partnering.

So, here are four action steps to get the ball rolling…

  1. Consider churches you can partner with. What like-minded-but-different churches are close by, or what existing relationships with other congregations do you have? Our theologies don’t have to line up perfectly to be perfectly acceptable to those involved. Meet with two or three other churches and start working out your vision of what a partnership could look like.
  2. As you begin to imagine this new relationship, compile an inventory of your ministry offerings. Make a list of Bible studies, mission experiences, retreats, support groups, or other ministries that each congregation is already planning to do. This is also a great time to consider a larger event that you can do together.
  3. Once you have your list, create an online and printed copy of your combined ministry catalog. Distribute this to every home in every church. This will take some work and coordination with your partner congregations. We put together teams of volunteers to copy, collate, and mail the catalogs to every household.
  4. Finally, don’t stop talking about it. This new initiative will take persistent communication to get traction. Keep mentioning this new opportunity to expand your ministry and build partnerships with other congregations. Find people who share a passion for this opportunity and invite them to add their voice to the chorus, announcing the benefits of coming together.

We’re calling our church partnership “Vine.” Feel free to borrow this name, or come up with your own title. Start small, then go big. The potential for collaboration and the energy of new relationships is a certain recipe for God to work in each church. If you would like more information on how you can create your own dynamic partnership, please reach out to me through Vibrant Faith.

Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter serves as the Minister of Worship Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN. In addition to his 35+ years of ministry, he received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University.

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