I am often asked about how campus ministries can partner with other ministries for the sake of greater effectiveness. This is a key leadership question. How does one effectively partner in a way that it does not take away from an organization’s calling and actually maximizes the mission of both groups individually and the kingdom in general?
As I have considered this I have come up with three levels of partnering that I think are a valid way to view how one would interact with any organization that is worth partnership possibilities.
This is the most basic level and should have the broadest application. This is the level where we recognize the legitimacy of a ministry organization and can rightly bless them with our words and actions–even though we might not agree with every doctrinal position or ministry practice. It means that we speak well of them, recommend them to those who might best fit within their ministry context, and pray for them and their ministry success. Personally, I have experienced this with some of the charismatic ministries I have encountered. While I might not agree with a particular ministry right down the line–I saw where their overall commitment was the same as mine–to love Christ and to make Him known. We agreed on the major doctrines of the faith even as disagreed on the minor ones. Therefore I could “bless” them.
This level encompasses a deeper level of partnering. It includes the sharing and pooling of resources for a particular ministry effort or strategy. Usually this is only for a season or a particular event. But by sharing and pooling resources a larger impact is possible than if each organization worked alone. The purpose is not to lose either organization’s true identity–but to simply cooperate for a greater good in the short run. This might occur many times over the life of a ministry in a given location. There were many expressions of this in my ministry years at OU–where we would cooperate with the BSU or the Navigators–for an evangelistic event or a concert of prayer–and there was a mutual benefit and a greater result than if we had not cooperated in that way.
This is the ongoing sharing and pooling of resources for a sustained synergistic effort and result. This is the recognition of what each organization brings to the table and the realization that they could be better together than apart. I am seeing this now with Campus Crusade in England–where Crusade is training staff from other ministries in evangelism because of our strength in that area. It is an ongoing, long term commitment. The end result is that there are even more trained laborers on the campus who are equipped and confident in communicating their faith. Sometimes this might even result in a new organization that is mutually better than before. This is the highest level of partnership and must be entered into carefully and prayerfully. There should be mutually agreed upon values and goals–and again, the true sharing of resources for the kingdom’s sake.
I am convinced that most organizations can partner better and more broadly than is currently apparent. Leaders must lead the way with a spirit of generosity and boldness for a greater good.