Connecting Beyond Competition
God made us to be in community. As ministry leaders, we are often left creating an environment of community for others, yet being left out of close community ourselves. Connecting with other pastors and ministry leaders can really fill that void that we have as we lead others. If you have ever reached out to other ministry leaders, then you understand how difficult it is to network and connect with other ministries and leaders in a healthy way.
Unfortunately for the Church (big C), ministry is a very competitive field to work in. Yes, being driven to reach as many people for the Gospel as possible, and make sure to close the back door and keep people in your church is a good thing. At the same time, being driven and being competitively aggressive (or defensive) with other churches and ministries are two totally separate things. One can lead to lots of people coming to new life in Christ, the other can lead to major hurt and bad attitudes towards local churches.
Having been on both ends of ministry networking, I have experienced the hurt of trying to come alongside another ministry that pushes you away out of competition, and I have also experienced having God do amazing things by bringing two ministries together. All of that while also creating a strong community of ministry leaders determined to work together, encourage one another and be accountable to one another. When that community is established, it is much more than a strong network, but it is the Church being the Church outside of four walls.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when seeking out ministry connections:
1. Be Ready to Pour Out without being Poured into.
One reason to look for community is to find that encouragement that you rarely get from those under your care. However, do not go into a relationship with another ministry leader expecting the world. If your expectation is to come away from that connection feeling somehow invigorated or full-to-overflowing, you may end up bitterly disappointed. The only way for ministry networking to work is to be ready to serve, to give and to encourage without expecting anything in return. I have been there and found myself very hurt by other ministries because I expected as much out of them as I was giving to them. This was not their fault, but it was my own unrealistic expectation. There are definitely times when we end up being used by others (perhaps in another article that can be the focus), but as a leader, you cannot worry about what they will or won’t do for you.
2. Make sure there is flex time on your calendar.
No, this is not time spent at the gym. I have seen several ministries fail to connect with others due to a rigid calendar. For whatever reason, they simply could not find time to lock arms with another leader or church. If you create space within your calendar that can shift a couple of weeks backward or forward, or if you keep your schedule relatively tentative, then when someone comes calling, you will be able to do something really cool by networking with another ministry.
3. Don’t look at other churches as the competition.
We have an enemy, and it is not the church down the street, but he would like to make us think that. It is a sad thing for a ministry leader to hold a bitter grudge against another due to the fact that one of their students left his/her group for that one. If we see each other as co-laborers rather than competitors, so much more can be done for the Gospel. Furthermore, and this is just my personal opinion, it seems to be the lazy way out to blame another church on our own shortcomings. So what if a student has decided to go to the “other church.” Is EVERY student in your community going to church regularly? If there is even one student that isn’t churched in your area, then the problem is not with another church. Go and reach the ones that haven’t been reached!
In order to make the most out of ministry connections, find other ministry leaders that you cannot just “talk shop” with, but those who care about you personally, who want to see you succeed and who will be those people that you can vent to when needed. Every pastor needs a pastor, therefore build yourself a community that is a safe place for all the junk that you carry that cannot be shared with your people. You will find that you will be a healthier leader, and your ministry will be much more vibrant.
[bctt tweet=”Every pastor needs a pastor. Therefore build yourself a community that is a safe place.” username=”ys_scoop”]
Joseph Fowler has a passion for leading the next generation of the Church, and reaching those who are far from God. He’s a sports fanatic, outdoorsman, pop culture connoisseur, and gamer. Find Joseph on Twitter @THEJOSEPHFOWLER, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.