I was recently asked why I think partnerships between Christian ministries are useful. I got the impression that we might be better off if we all just focused on our own ministries and let one another get on with the work. After all, isn’t collaboration another way of slowing progress and getting side-tracked from our main calling?
Let me be clear. I love partnerships, collaborating, and getting side-tracked with interesting people. So, I set off to study the Word of God and see what I could see. I got as far as Luke chapter 5 and stayed there. The calling of the first disciples, by the Lake of Gennesaret. You’ll find the story in Luke 5:1-11.
The first thing I notice (which has little to do with partnerships) is that Jesus used technology from the beginning of his ministry. By getting into a boat and speaking to a crowd of people in the open air, Jesus took a technological approach in order to be heard. Using the sound-carrying properties of flat water, he positioned himself in the boat so that his voice carried clearly out to all his listeners.
This, of course, is music to the ears of a media mission like the Far East Broadcasting Company!
The next thing I noticed is the word “partners.” It is used twice in the story, but with two different words in the original Greek. Why?
The first use of “partners” in verse 7 describes the fishermen in a separate boat to Simon. They are ‘metachos’ partners, meaning they share something in common, but mostly by chance. They happen to be together in the industry.
Soon after, when Peter (who will soon be renamed Peter) realises his own sinful state and urges Jesus away, verse 10 says that all were astonished at the catch of fish, as were James and John, Simon’s “partners.” This time Luke uses the term ‘koinonos.’
This word for partners stresses the fact that they share something in common very deliberately. They are purposely working with each other, and the outcome affects them together.
Quite simply, some people are partners because they are all fishermen, but some are partners because they choose to get into the same boat or help each other with the same fishing event.
The interesting thing about this story is that the two fishing crews start out as ‘metachos’ partners, doing their fishing work separately. But when Jesus intervenes and provides them with a great catch (5:6), they come together as ‘koinonos’ partners – two boats side by side, working collaboratively towards the very same end, the same great catch (5:7b).
As churches, households, and organisations who love and follow Jesus, we are ‘metachos’ partners. When we chose to come alongside each other and combine our efforts, skills, funds, creative ideas, we become ‘koinonos’ partners.
Jesus teaches us that there is a time to fish alone, and a time to come together. When the work is really demanding we should call out for partnerships, or take the initiative and come alongside someone who needs a hand.
Partnerships are normal for success in family, work and ministry. We need each other, especially when the workload is heavy. Life is always about working with others, so strengthening our friendships and trust relationships is like repairing the nets and maintaining the boats. We are wise to partner together, we stand a much better chance of staying afloat and catching more fish, if we collaborate.
Around the world FEBC works with hundreds of partner ministries like Bible Society, Alpha, World Vision, Tear Fund, Hagar, TWR, Reach Beyond, Guidelines for Living, etc.
The Today Devotional Notebook is a partnership project in New Zealand between FEBC, Bible Society, and Manna Christian Stores. Together we produced this Bible companion notebook because of our shared purposes – to encourage people in the Mission of God, and to encourage interaction with the Word of God. Numerous other organisations got on-board with devotional input.
What ideas do you have brewing that might be more successful with others alongside you? Call them today.
You can purchase this Devotional Notebook at manna.co.nz or call FEBC on 0800 433 226. All proceeds support missions in and from New Zealand.