Shifts to Collaborate in Your Community

Move Out

Reaching millennials means we need to get out of the status quo. The routine life of a local church is not connecting with the non-religious millennials. We can see this as the rate of Nones within the whole US continues to rise the most among 18-35 year olds. This is not a call to a fearful reaction. But merely a sobering reality that we need to be in our communities with millennials not merely inviting people to us.

In our movement out, collaboration becomes essential. We can not go be with people in a new “land” if we don’t have collaborators, bridge builders or sponsors who create space for us to connect with millennials in our community. We’ve seen many attempts by the church to “win back” or “take back” the community for Jesus. However, Jesus never came and grasped or dominated. Rather, Jesus asked people to be his collaborators, to share life and together they would “fish for people.” 

How Do We Imagine Collaboration

Collaboration is one of those gap realities that exist in the life of the church but is rarely tackled by pastors and leaders. We have a high level of talk, seminar time, content and value given to collaboration. Yet there is a gap between how we articulate collaboration and what we actually do. Too often we talk about building trust in order to collaborate with organizations and people within our community but often times we practice building trust in order to further organization or personal agendas. The thing we typically imagine is that collaboration is the end. Rather we should imagine collaboration as a means to form friendships in the community. 

Authentic friendships between organizational leaders and teams will produce collaboration. Or another way to frame it is that collaboration with emerge from authentic friendships. But this requires that we risk the culture of our organization because once we allow for a friendship to form that group will change us. This is where collaboration breaks down because at the heart of every organization and person, change scares us. Change requires that we give up our current reality for something unknown. 

Shifts to Collaborate in Your Community

Sharing Ministry

We need a shift from prenuptial agreements to covenanting. This means putting aside the question, “Who owns it?” The brand, the ownership, the responsibility for the activities that you enter into with others must be set aside. If you’re thinking about your image and who is going to “win or lose” at the beginning, then you’re not entering into a relationship; you’re entering a business deal. Relationships require radical sharing which means that we have to be willing to come out on the bottom or behind the scenes in the end and be content with that result.

Addressing the Heart

Collaboration requires that we shift from self sufficiency to an openness to others. Leaders typically have a hard time with this shift. We say we can’t do it alone but what we really mean is I need to people to do what I want to do. This shift requires that leaders deal with their heart issue as they seek to be a good friend with other leaders.

Develop Collaborative Practices

In order to sustain healthy collaborative relationships, we need to shift our organizational practices from silos to clearing houses. A silo is used to store one item separate from the rest. A clearing house is used to stage items or transactions that need to be moved out. Healthy collaborative relationships require that we stage resources, project time, and more in order to move it into the broader world.

Killing Efficiency

In order to sustain a collaborative relationship, the shift from efficiency to development needs to occur. In efficiency we look for corners to cut, hacks, and techniques. A development mindset kills efficiency because we slow down enough to listen not only to what people tell us but also to how they live their lives. Development looks to address not merely the symptoms that are plaguing people but the diseases that produce the symptoms. Collaboration that focuses on development sticks out the long inefficient periods because leaders know the symptoms will reveal the underlying issues that are hindering the relationship.


What other changes hold you back from collaborating with others in your community?