One of the greatest obstacles or hindrances in the local church today is the four walls. Many Christians are the most comfortable when they can just go to the local church, worship, and go home. Too many times we operate in silos and neglect to connect with other churches, or organizations within the community to reach the people for Christ. God brought me to Denver twenty-six years ago from Texas.
Before my family and I left Ft. Worth, a godly man by the name of Jim pulled me aside and said “Lee, you are moving to Denver where you do not know anyone. As you meet people, get their business cards, and do your best to remember something about them and stay in touch with them. You never know who you might need moving forward.” It was some of the best advice I ever had. Looking back, Jim was encouraging me to develop relationships which can lead to partnerships. Partnerships are necessary for success in any field or business, including the church.
Biblical partnerships provide principles such as opportunities for growth in our faith and a spirit of working together They allow the church to demonstrate a Christ-like character and provide opportunities to reach a wider community. The church wants to make an impact and alone it will reach a few people. However, collaboratively a multitude can be impacted with the church leading the way.
The church should lead the way when there is peace in the community and when there is distress.
I am not saying the church must partner with every organization because some organizations are so ungodly that they would diminish the effectiveness of the ministry. 2 Cor. 6:14-15 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
It also does not mean that the church remains in a holy cocoon within the community either. The church should lead the way when there is peace in the community and when there is distress. We need to be at the meeting with our feet at the table to be informed and offer suggestions on how to solve issues that arise from time to time.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” There is plenty of work in every community that if churches worked together, we could impact more people for the cause of Christ. Someone asked me recently, “Why is it difficult for churches and pastors to work together?” My response was pride, fear, control, who is going to get the credit, etc. None of these responses reflect the heart of God. In biblical days churches had to partner together to make it. The letters went to the metroplex and then were shared with smaller house churches.
Our role as pastors and leaders is to encourage one another and stir each other to service in our churches as well as the community. For the remainder of this article, I want to share with you some community partnerships that Grace is a part of and how they are affecting our church and community.
For the past three years we have put on an outreach entitled Unity at the Rim. This movement came out of the George Floyd situation in Minnesota a few years ago. Racial tensions were high across the country and the Denver metro area. Instead of joining protests and marching in the streets (which was not a bad thing), we decided to gather a group of pastors and church leaders from the community and do something different to help bring healing to the community.
A sending church is a church willing to commission a planter and his team to go to a place to begin a new gospel work.
We partnered with Missionary Baptist, Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, COGIC, Assemblies of God, a community bank, pastors and church leadership and a few others to seek guidance on how to proceed and to lead the way in defusing racial tensions. We had in-person prayer meetings, meetings with the Aurora city council, and others to change how the Aurora Police Department policed the black and brown community. The church was at the forefront of the meetings. Although after a couple of years of back and forth the city refused to budge or provide any noticeable change. All was not lost.
As a newly formed partnership, we agreed on bringing the community together through basketball. Unity at the Rim was born and three years later we are still partnering to bring unity to the community. No is never an option. With God all things are possible to those who believe. Unity at the Rim brings together first responders (police, fire fighters, sheriffs) and community youth to talk about issues in the community. There is a rap session in the beginning facilitated by one of our men on youth as well as police concerns in the community. From there the teams are picked consisting of first responders and youth and a round robin is played until a winner emerges. Instead of playing against each other, we are playing together to build relationships that are positive and productive instead of fighting each other.
Never be afraid to encourage other churches to join you in reaching people. It is about the Kingdom of God.
The Denver Police Department has extended invitations for these same youths to someday join the police department as officers and they offer scholarships as well. Community youth are exposed to careers that they may or may not have thought about before. The exposure is good for both groups. Our church has also partnered with the Struggle of Love, a community organization, to give guidance to youth on Friday nights while playing basketball at the local recreation center. We have the freedom to pray with them, share the gospel, and be mentors.
Secondly, our community surrounding Grace has several different nationalities. Our church does not look like the community currently. My goal is to someday have a multicultural ministry that reflects the heart of God in our neighborhood. This summer we partnered with the Colorado Baptist General Convention, a local Assemblies of God Church, and other community organizations to provide a block party to reach residents.
The event featured local vendors, prayer teams, entertainment, free food, and giveaways. One of our fellow churches, an Assemblies of God congregation, set up a prayer booth, prayed for people and gave out free bibles. It seemed like the booth always had someone there and they took the bibles with them. Participants had to sign up with their names, emails, and phone numbers for the giveaways. It was a way for us to follow up with them in the coming days and weeks. Over 200 people showed up from different racial backgrounds and we followed up on guests, connected with them, prayed with each person, and invited them to worship. Some have visited the church and joined our ministry.
The key was partnering with the community to reach the people. Never be afraid to encourage other churches to join you in reaching people. It is about the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit. The Scriptures remind us in Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” It would have been tough for us to pull this outreach off by ourselves. However, through the power of partnerships and the help of the Holy Spirit we were able to get it done.
God has placed believers in all these entities. We are not there just to be there; we need to be active, and we need to speak up.
In today’s world, building strong partnerships within communities is vital for societal well-being. When such partnerships are rooted in biblical principles, they have the potential to bring about profound transformation. The Bible emphasizes the concept of the body of Christ, where each member plays a vital role. 1 Cor. 12:14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” The community is made up of many entities such as first responders, politicians, various neighborhoods, people groups, etc.
God has placed believers in all these entities. We are not there just to be there; we need to be active, and we need to speak up. In the community, partnerships foster unity among diverse individuals, churches, and organizations, pooling their resources and talents for a common purpose. This collaborative approach amplifies the impact of our efforts, enabling us to address social, economic, and spiritual challenges more effectively. God has called us to be an agent to change the lives of people. I believe in the power of partnerships and the impact they make. It gives the church exposure and relevance to the community.
I encourage you to think of an activity in your community that will benefit the Kingdom. Meet with other pastors and church leaders to plan an activity with the goal of partnership to minister outside the four walls of the building. Don’t worry about who gets the credit, instead let God get the glory.