Being a Partner Church in Ministry5 min read

Throughout the Scriptures, we are given a picture of people in partnerships: Adam and Eve, Jesus and His disciples, Peter and Paul, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Timothy, Paul and the early Christian churches. This list could go on and on and on!

Partnerships have been around since the beginning of human life and are still evident in our lives today: husbands and wives, parents and children, and throughout the business world. This list could go on and on and on also!

But what about partnerships among our Christian churches today? Can we use this age-old concept in a new way today? Can we use the opportunity of partnerships to enhance the work of God’s Kingdom here on earth to their fullest potential and to the glory of God?

We are surrounded by a mentality and belief in this world that defines partnerships as, “We both contribute equal amounts and we both mutually benefit in equal amounts.” If it doesn’t work that way, then most will believe that a partnership is of no use to us.

In contrast, partnerships in the Bible weren’t all about equal return. Partnerships in the Bible were all about God being glorified through the work of His people together in communicating the Gospel victory of Christ Jesus. Granted, it didn’t always appear that way, especially when Peter and Paul had issues in working together, but what is amazing is that God even used the inability for these two men to partner together to still expand the sharing of the Gospel and the work of His Kingdom! What an amazing God we have!

I remember when one of our sons told me that he was never going to get married (he was in his 20’s at the time!). He had dated quite a few girls but had discovered that none of them really brought that much to the table of making his life better. So why bother? He didn’t quite understand that this type of relationship isn’t about what you can get out of, but instead it’s about what you can give into it! I told him that someday he was going to meet a young lady whom he would realize he could help achieve her full potential, and that he would discover a very fulfilling partnership. And he did!

Maybe your congregation has this same “why bother” mentality as our son did: “We are doing fine and all is well. If we try entering into a partnership it will take a whole lot of work and what will we get out of it?” But is God’s Church all about the local congregation only, or is it about His Kingdom work and seeking every soul for Jesus?

Is your congregation ready to partner with another congregation?

Probably not. So invest in a season of prayer. Ask God to use your congregation not just for the sake of the people at (fill in your congregation’s name) but to use HIS congregation for the sake of the Gospel reaching out to all people.

Who do we partner with?

Look at your sister LCMS congregations around you. Is there one who could benefit by your partnering with it? Sharing the encouragement of your five youth with their four youth so they can play nine-square together, for example? Could you network together and share a list of Bible studies (topic, days, and times) with the congregations in your circuit and invite any and all to be part of them? Do you have a pastor who led you through an amazing Bible study that could benefit another congregation if he led it there? Maybe even trading pastors so their pastor could lead you through his expertise study? The possibilities are endless. Why do this? Because we are all in this Gospel proclamation of Jesus together! Ecclesiastes 4:9 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”

What if a sister church near us doesn’t have a pastor? Could we partner with it so that God’s ministry is strengthened in its community?

Absolutely! Historically, many times our LCMS churches have joined together and created dual parishes (one pastor serves each congregation part time). This may be a possible option, but before saying “Let’s just become a dual parish,” let’s ask first: can we become partner churches? The key difference is that your intent in coming together is not to just share a pastor and both congregations exist independently of each other, but your intent is to partner, that is, to make stronger the mission and ministry of God together. Partner churches would actively engage in conversation, identification of goals, and agreement before joining together in the ministry areas that you will initially be intentional about partnering together in (Vacation Bible School, Confirmation, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry, preschool, day school, community outreach …. you can see the possibilities are endless!). An amazing bonus is that you have the potential of doing these things in two different locations, impacting even more of your local community.

The blessings of partnerships and partner churches:

  • Working together (for God’s Kingdom!);
  • Encouragement;
  • Accountability;
  • Being able to steward God’s gifts for His Kingdom building (pooling resources);
  • Being Synod (“walking together”) in action.

Please note: a partnership is not covenanted over a handshake. It is led by prayer and the Word of God—to the glory of His name and for the growth of His Kingdom.

Want to know more?

Ask your Michigan District Facilitator:

  • Randy Johnson (Lead Facilitator) West Region
  • Mark Brandt (Part-time Facilitator) North and East Region
  • John Greig (Part-time Facilitator) Metro East Region
  • Dan Meckes (Part-time Facilitator) Metro West Region

Listen to the upcoming series of podcast episodes:

  • Why Partnerships are Needed Even More Today
  • Partnerships: Outliving the Life Cycle
  • Partnership Models in the Michigan District Today (this one will be more than one podcast with different congregations)
  • Partnering in a “Hub and Spoke”

Subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode! Click here to subscribe.

Photo © Puttachat Kumkrong/iStock

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About the Author

Rev. Daniel Meckes is the District Facilitator (part-time) for the Metro West Region. He is also an associate pastor of Journey Lutheran Church in Oxford, Mich.

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