Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. — Ecclesiastes 4:9
There is no better word for understanding the word “partner” than “relationship.” Living in relationship with others has a “good return” or reward because “two are better than one.” When we work together, our work multiplies. Working together is a natural opportunity for the kingdom of God to advance here on earth. When we become interested in building God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, the risk involved in partnerships becomes minimal. When we focus on the kingdom of God, we desire to live in relationship with others, building the kingdom together.
The primary Greek word for “partnership” in the New Testament is koinonia. This word appears 19 times in the New Testament. Perhaps the most common translation of koinonia is the English word “fellowship.” It can also be translated into other English words such as “participation,” “sharing” and “association.”
When we live in relationship with one another, the key motivator becomes loving one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34, 15:12). With this motivator, competing with each other loses its appeal. We become focused on advancing others for the kingdom of God. Time here is short, and we all should be working at great lengths to advance His work on earth regardless of differences. Those very differences can unite us to become stronger witnesses — not pull us apart or cause division.
Often what gets in our way is becoming shortsighted and forgetting what we already have. We fail to see those God has already placed around us to partner. Many churches toil and labor trying to build the kingdom, but they realize their resources are minimal. When our eyes become opened, we unite together as one, set aside our differences of interpretation, and become disciples building together with multiplied resources. We become stewards of God’s resources in such a way that “for His kingdom” becomes the umbrella under which we distribute
resources. We cross over the lines of fear and allow His perfect love to cast out fear
(1 John 4:18).
Partnering can become messy. Ask Paul and Barnabas someday (Acts 15:36–41). But allowing fear to stop us results in sin and unsaved people.
Keep your eyes open to the people God has already placed around your path. Build relationships with others whose ministries have something yours is missing, and vice versa. Both parties benefit from the resources each party brings to the table. The motive is love, and the result is the advancement of the kingdom of God.
Eden Reforestation Projects President Steve Fitch says it well:
Fairly often new innovative groups come along and end up (unintentionally) weakening core missional ministries. Some groups are afraid of innovation, but such is not the fate of the Free Methodist Church – USA. With our long-term commitment to social justice and holistic ministry in heart and hand, the Board of Bishops determined to embrace the creative as a means to strengthen the core. At General Conference 2015, one of the breakout sessions will focus on partnering strong. Come and see how the Free Methodist ministry family will grow stronger as we join core missional ministries with holistic expressions like digging wells, medical work and even planting trees.
As the Partner Strong team, Fitch, Pastor Jason Engle, Pastor Bryce Grieco and I have individually and collectively realized the strength in partnering with like-minded ministries for the kingdom. Engle — the lead pastor of Jackson (Michigan) Free Methodist Church — and Grieco — the lead pastor of Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church in Wellsburg, West Virginia — will discuss their local efforts of partnering with other like-minded groups. Grieco and his congregation have worked tirelessly to resource the church with 101 practical ways to partner.
When we set aside fear and partner with other like-minded ministries, historic things will happen. When different parts of the kingdom stop wasting energy by competing with each other, we will find the strength to build everlasting partnerships. Partnerships are mutually beneficial for the kingdom of God.
When we join together, we can see trees being planted. People can be set free from the bondage of modern slavery. We can link together with people of all races, denominations and socioeconomic backgrounds. The encouragement to witness and our wealth of resources will be strengthened. Healthy vulnerability will increase. Let us partner courageously to find kingdom growth. What are we waiting for?
Sabra Dyas is the Partner Strong strategy team facilitator for General Conference 2015, a Free Methodist elder and the president of Main Street Ministries.