As I type these words I'm at a mountain retreat with 10 other youth ministry leaders from around the nation. We are collaborating around a vision that we pray will result in every teenager in America engaged in a Gospel conversation with a Christian peer. To accomplish this we need to inspire, equip and deploy at least 30,000 churches/youth ministries to join us in this quest.
That's right 30,000!
Humanly speaking this big vision seems well beyond our capacity to achieve. But we are convinced that, through God's strength and the power of collaboration, it can be done.
As we brainstorm and work together to synergize our efforts toward this exciting vision there are certain realities I'm discovering anew about the power of collaborating for the Gospel.
So, whether you're on a church staff that is collaborating to reach your community for Christ or a youth ministry network that is brainstorming how to reach the teens of your city for Jesus here are four principles of Gospel advancing collaboration that may help:
1. It is best when bold.
Bold vision fosters strong collaboration. As a matter of fact the bigger and bolder the vision the more it necessitates working together for your common and audacious cause.
And I submit that there is no cause bigger or bolder than the spread of the gospel in a community or on a campus. The gospel transforms people from the inside out (Romans 1:16) and the results can change everything.
The power of Jesus' bold vision is still being felt today. He told his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As a result of the bold vision of Jesus entire societies have been transformed. The poor have been fed. The broken have been healed. The hopeless have been given hope. Nothing else changes everything else like the gospel.
So get a bold vision from God that centers around the advancement of this powerful message. Which leads us to our second point...
2. It is birthed out of prayer.
The ultimate collaboration is birthed out of prayer together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Prayer is the ultimate team building exercise. It opens up vertical channels of divine wisdom so that the horizontal interchange of ideas and strategies are full of impact and effectiveness.
As we have been brainstorming for the last three days we have salted our times together with extended times of prayer. Why? Because the vision is so bold and so big that we need God to give us the ideas to make it happen! Without his wisdom surging through our hearts, souls and minds there is no way it can be done. With it there's no way it can't be done!
That's why I love James 1:5,6. He promises to give us the wisdom we need if we ask him in faith, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
We must collaborate with God before we collaborate with each other if that collaboration is going to stick.
3. It is built on the God's Word.
Every morning we have started with a devotional time where a principle of God's Word was unpacked that was relevant to our subject that day. These principles have created the trajectory of our time together and helped us to make sure we are seeking to accomplish God's will in God's way.
One morning Doug Holliday talked about "The Jethro Principle" in Exodus 18. Yesterday Zane Black talked about the power of Christ to accomplish this bold vision in https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+1%3A28-29&version=NIV.
Every morning as we've unpacked God's Word together the principles we have talked about have shown themselves to be crucial in our collaboration. They have formed the foundation of our plans on solid rock, not sinking sand.
4. It is bolstered by strong relationships.
Between playing broom hockey, eating meals together, hanging out in the hot tub and chatting it up around the pool table a band of brotherhood has been formed and forged. God made us social creatures and when we spend enough time getting to know each other then we can be more vulnerable, share more ideas, deal with necessary conflict and get more done.
I have found that when a group of people know, love and like each other then mountains become molehills. And when they don't molehills can become mountains.
This whole experience has been a great privilege for me. As we wrap up our time together today we are literally coming down from the mountains with a clear vision and some practical plans to accomplish it for the glory of God.
I challenge you to unleash the power of collaboration for the cause of Christ with your team. As you dream, pray and play together God will clarify your vision and give you the wisdom to accomplish it for his glory!