I’m convinced that the Bible teaches these two things: i) that local churches should be independent churches; ii) being an independent church does not mean being isolated and that local churches should work together.
But this raises a number of questions such as ‘How should local churches work together?’ ‘When should local churches work together?’ and ‘What should local churches work on together?’
Wonderfully there is a really helpful book called Churches Partnering Together that goes a long way to answering these questions.
In Churches Partnering Together, Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks, want to encourage local churches to enter into what they call kingdom partnerships with each other. “A kingdom partnership is a gospel-driven relationship between interdependent local churches that pray, work, and share resources together strategically to glorify God through kingdom-advancing goals they could not accomplish alone.” They do this by showing how the apostle Paul encouraged local churches to work together, by giving to a collection he would take to the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
There are lots of useful points made throughout the book on things such as the motivation for partnership, the foundation for partnership, the nuts and bolts of how a partnership works, and also persevering in a partnership, as well as step by step instructions for how to set one up.
However the stand out chapter for me was the one on interdependence in partnership. “When Paul challenged the Corinthians to send a generous contribution to Jerusalem, he didn’t expect it to be a one-way street.” They then make this challenging comment that “If we go into any ministry without hoping to receive something, we’re either arrogantly proud (what could we ever gain from those guys) or arrogantly humble (it’s more blessed to give than receive; so we never want to receive anything).”
So what are some of the blessings we receive from partnering with other local churches in ministry? They suggest stronger gospel fellowship; encouragement, inspiration, and refreshment; spiritual and practical shepherding; greater passion for other areas of ministry; and tangible assistance. Certainly these have been my experience.
Churches Partnering Together is a great book for church leaders to read, especially those who lead independent churches, to get them thinking about how they can work with other local churches for the sake of the gospel. It certainly made me thankful that Banstead Community Church is part of the FIEC and has good links with some of the local churches in the area. But it has also got me thinking about what we could be doing together.
Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.