Church life as we used to know it has radically shifted over the last few months.  We have seen incredible and creative work done by churches in this season.  But I also think that one of the opportunities for us in this season is to discover how we can collaboratively lead with other churches.  I recently went on a retreat, camping in a rural area of NB.  I was reminded of how many churches can exist in a small area, and wondered how or if those churches shared ministry.  

As I think about collaboration, I realize I really missed the One Conference this year.  This youth movement was born out of the dream to see churches and denominations partner together to remind us that there really is One God and only One Church.   I look forward to seeing this event happen again, and I love the collaboration that happens when church leaders are transparent and hold on to shared values for the sake of youth in our region.

What is Collaboration?

It is the action of working with someone to produce or create something.  In this COVID-age, as we continue to recover and discern how God is leading us, I believe there is incredible opportunity for churches to produce or create something new through partnering.  Many of our churches are small.  While they are doing great work, I wonder how much more could be done if resources were shared.  

Consider the area of family ministry.  Many leaders are providing some resources for families to use at home in the absence of our regular programming.  What if churches in the same area collaborated and created resources together?  Instead of one or two leaders bearing the load, what could happen if there was a team representing a few different churches?  Are we so afraid that we may lose people to another church that we refuse to work with anyone else?  

What are the benefits of collaborative leadership?

1. New Ideas

A diversity of voices will naturally generate new ideas.  All leaders then have the opportunity to speak into the opportunities and solutions of the shared problem.  

2. Shorter Time Frames

With more people contributing to an idea, the quality of work will improve as people are better able to contribute from their strengths.  Groups working together should be able to move more quickly to accomplish a shared task.  

3. Improves morale

Being able to learn from other leaders, and share your own experience builds trust and creates healthier environments.  By being able to partner now on a smaller project and building trust, what other opportunities may lie down the road for you and your churches?

4. It reduces the workload

With more people sharing the responsibilities, it becomes less daunting for one person.  If three churches partner to create a resource for families at home, the workload can become more manageable.  

5. It fits with Jesus’s expectations for us.

Remember how Jesus said the world would recognize us by the ways we worked together?  (I think this is a large part of his prayer for us to be one.  Let’s be honest, we’re not often great at this.)  Remember how he calls us to share the mission of making disciples?  

How can I start collaborating with churches?

1. Connect with other leaders.

Make a phone call, send an email, and find out who is in a similar role to yours at another church.  If you’re a volunteer youth leader, contact another church and see who may be another leader.  Set up a time to meet, and share your heart about seeing churches work together.

2. Have a problem you want to work on.

Maybe you’re wanting to create a video for families to watch and you don’t want to do it by yourself.  Maybe you want to create a fun social-distancing event for youth in your community.  As you call the leader, present your problem and invite their input.  

3. Remember the same Spirit that is leading you is also leading others.

Chances are that if you sense the Spirit leading you to collaborate with other churches, then the SPirit is also leading someone else.  We are not called to lead as individuals, but we lead out of and into communities.  

4. Reach out to us

Your Youth & Family team is here to cheer you on!  Sometimes people think we’re only here for paid staff and that’s not true at all.  If you’re wanting to connect with the Next Generation in your neighbourhood, we have always been your champions.  If you’re not sure who to reach out to, or what problem you may want to resolve, we’d love to chat with you about that.  

Our desire is to see our churches thrive, and we believe that will have a huge impact on the Next Generation as we point them towards Jesus.  Patrick B. Reyes writes, “Communities succeed when the village raises the next generation.”  Collaboration is an incredible opportunity for us to raise the next generation.  Who else is in your village?