Ricky Linton: Gospel Partnerships are changing our town

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

 

In 2014, in our town, Coleraine, the local churches and para-church organisations held a series of events together under the banner of “Passion for Life”. Birthed from this was a deep desire for this unity to continue. But what would this look like? After meeting and praying together for months, the Coleraine Gospel Partnership was formed in January 2015. It is early days but there’s a sense of being at the pioneering stage of something really special.

 

Ministers and youth workers are meeting together, praying together, planning together, and building trust with each other. Churches are beginning to break down the denomination boundaries that has built up over the generations; all with the united focus of carrying out God’s mission in our town. We want to see a unity between the believers of values and purpose so that we can reach out together into the community with God’s message of hope. We have held a number of shared events and this Easter young people from the town will join together on various community based projects leading into a weekend of intergenerational and interdenominational Bible teaching. We are excited. Even though the partnership is in the infantile stage, everyone involved really feels the sense of blessing from God upon what is happening.

 

No one is perfect. There are always going to differences and little things that people disagree about. That’s why it’s so important to get on our knees together and seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:3. We should all seek these things in our lives and the lives of our churches. That is, after all, God’s will for us.

Chris Agnew: Partnership

Gospel Partnerships

I currently serve as Church Development Coordinator for Exodus, an organisation passionate about serving the church in disciple making youth ministry. This involves building partnerships between Exodus and local churches; mobilising and training leaders for disciple making youth ministry through small groups, mentoring and mission opportunities. It also involves serving on steering teams for a couple of wider church events involving a number of churches and organisations.

CS Lewis said “in each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not enough to call the whole man into being; I need other lights than my own to show all his facets1.

This points to a fundamental truth about relationship; the need for others, not only to engage with, but actually to draw out the gold sometimes concealed within us. This is true of gospel partnerships as well. We need each other to draw out the gold within our own niches and in doing so embody unity to a fractured world “so that they might believe” (cf John 17:21). Disciple Making is all the richer with partnership at its core. It takes the focus from adding numbers to a denomination or organisation, to striving together for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

Partnership broadens our horizons, helps us as specialists in our particular fields to be humble, recognise the limitations of our competence and in doing so fosters dependence on each other, and on the Spirit of God. Ultimately it pushes to dream bigger and bolder and to attempt great things for the Kingdom.

How does this happen? It must begin with values as opposed to veins. Shared values are more important than denominational/family (blood) ties. Values shape direction, and therefore if values are not shared, direction will be very difficult to come to agreement on in partnership. Start with shared values and the rest will flow.

Here are some key questions to ask when considering entering into a partnership:

  • What is the vision for this project (do values match up)?
  • What is the fruit that is hoped for (does direction match up)?
  • What is the relationship that key leaders have? Is there established trust?
  • What are each party willing to sacrifice in their current ministry to enable this to flourish?
  • What is the financial investment each party is willing to make?

Dale Bruner comments (and I’m paraphrasing) that the Trinity itself exists as a beautiful partnership, where each member defers to the other in a symbiotic, sacrificial relationship, each seeking to glorify the other and in doing so bring glory to the Godhead2. Therefore real relationship and love at the heart is crucial. We must seek the good of each other from a place of love. What would our country look like, what would our world look like if we made it a priority to defer to others and serve one another in the cause of the gospel?

Read Ricky Linton’s example of how ‘Gospel Partnerships are transforming our town.’

 

  1. CS Lewis, The Four Loves.
  2. Dale Bruner & William Hordern, The Holy Spirit: Shy Member of the Trinity.