Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Call to Collaboration

by Cindy Wiles
Executive Director, GCPN

Want to travel fast, travel alone. Want to travel far, travel together.
-African Proverb

There's never a cookie cutter answer to any missions question. You know from your own experience that every mission frontier requires unique vision, unique strategies, and unique relationships. When asked by churches or cross-cultural workers how to do something - as if there is some standard book of guidelines or rules - I usually respond by saying, "There are as many ways to get people into places as there are people whom God calls there." God is not strapped by our methods and strategies. He is God.

But He is a God of community - triune in his own existence - he never seems to suggest alone is best. Even when calling his people into isolation it is usually for a meeting with Him. The Scripture suggests over and over again that collaborative investments not only result in stronger and more effective systems, but that the journey together meets an innate human need for community and love. In Exodus 18, Moses, overwhelmed by the task of judging disputes for the people of Israel from morning till evening, was able to lead more effectively because his father-in-law, Jethro, understood the value of collaboration. By increasing the capacity of the judicial system as a whole, Moses was freed up to play the leadership role God intended for him to play while others were effectively incorporated into positions of influence as God had gifted them. The resulting health and sustainability brought order and peace to the community as a whole.

Collaboration has its challenges, requiring communication, processing, sharing, consensus-building, time, patience and a surrender of power (God forbid!) For those who need to receive credit, be recognized, own it and move at their own pace, collaboration can be a test. But when collaborative partners grow into a state of interdependency, considering the goals and success of all partners, the maximum benefits of collaboration can be felt. Although slow in its beginnings, the long-term effects of collaborative partnership can enhance the corporate gifting of churches, organizations, networks and other partners so that the power of the united whole is much more effective for the Kingdom than any one of them can be on their own.

From its beginnings, CGPN has identified itself as an all things in common network. Following the model of the 1st century church in Acts 2:44 which states, all the believers were together and had everything in common, some churches in this network have been willing to make great sacrifice for the benefit of others. There are some who have been beneficiaries of the collaborative spirits of others. There are a few who are just learning to spell collaboration. Collaboration is available but must be embraced.

In this new era of church-based mission, my prayer for you as a missions leader is three-fold. I pray that you . . .

  • won't wait on someone else to do it for you

  • will be willing to seek wisdom from those who have done it before you

  • will search for the partners God has ordained to take this journey with you

May God be glorified as you unite your efforts for the Kingdom!