How Partnerships Happen (Re-post)

How Partnerships Happen (Re-post)

One year ago, we asked long-time MBC pastor, Richie Rhea, to write a post about the importance of partnering together in the aftermath of a contentious Southern Baptist Convention. Given the nature leading up to the Convention in Anaheim, we thought his words were worth re-posting. Here is his original unchanged post from last year.

Thankfully, it is the Monday after The Southern Baptist Convention! Southern Baptists have spent months hammering each other through social media and other outlets. What has resulted is a lack of trust in our institutions, many of our leaders, and each other. The lack of trust is not only with our denomination but in any partnership. Some, disgusted at what they have seen and heard, might be wondering why partner with the SBC or our own Missouri Baptist Convention? Why not keep all that CP money and do our own thing? I want to address that question by sharing this post entitled How Partnerships Happen.

I love being asked to write for The Stewardship Journal. So, I jumped at the offer to write the lead post for this edition. I felt God placed in my heart a good word for my fellow Missouri Baptists. I wanted to write on the power of partnerships, especially how they happen and how they can be improved. All of us have benefitted from partnerships and, given the challenges we face today, now more than ever, you need partnerships you can count on. The question becomes how partnerships happen.

As I was thinking through this post, I was told it would be published on June 21st, the Monday after our annual SBC Convention. The problem lies in the fact that this post had to be filed the Monday before the Convention would start. How do you write about moving forward after an event that hasn’t occurred? I turn to the Word of God, especially the writings of the Apostle Paul. I find Paul’s opening words to the church at Philippi applicable for our day and the discussion of partnerships. Here is what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3–7…

[3] I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, [4] always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, [5] because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. [6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. [7] It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. (ESV)

Even though Paul was “in chains,” he continued to foster real-life, loving connections with people. He used the means of his day to continually work on the relationships he had built. For Paul, living daily “in chains” meant he needed partners to help further the gospel of Christ and even bring him care and comfort. Paul understood what I fear many leaders miss. We are better partnering with others than doing our own thing.

He was chained to guards around the clock. People in churches had been gossiping about him and about why he was in prison. And yet, here he was, writing one of the most joyful books of the Bible. He wrote to his partners, with Timothy, his fellow-servant, to say thank you. Paul had let these believers in Philippi in his “heart.” It is no wonder that Paul’s friends were committed and caring; Paul was connected to them in their generosity.

Let me highlight some thoughts in the inspired writing of Paul. We will see some principles with which we need to audit our ministry to lead churches into partnerships of generosity and the gospel.

How Paul Forged Partnerships in Giving and the Gospel

  1. He saw his chains as being “in Christ” (Philippians 1:13). He was stuck. Paul was in a place that one would think would limit his ability to fulfill his calling. But through Christ, his imprisonment was used to further the gospel! Do you ever feel stuck in your current position? When it seems we are stuck, we must remember that Jesus is still Lord. He is Lord of our circumstances.
  2. Paul expressed thankfulness to God for the people and leaders of the church at Philippi. It’s easy to find fault in others, in the denomination, and even with the church and people we lead. Paul chose to thank God for these generous believers and the work they were accomplishing through Christ. Let’s thank the Lord for His people, knowing that the good work He has done in them and He will complete.
  3. Paul prayed for them with joy. He states this in verse four and then shares why at the beginning of verse five, “because of your partnership in the gospel.” Are you praying with joy about the partnerships that help further the gospel through your church and denomination?
  4. Paul prayed for their generous partnership in the gospel. The gospel is worth it all. The gospel of grace through Christ inspires graciousness. As a result of their support and partnership with Paul, the Philippians had a part in the gospel spreading worldwide. Let’s thank the Lord for how our partnerships through our churches, associations, our state convention, and the SBC allow us to be a part of reaching our world for Jesus.
  5. Paul was emotionally attached to the church of Philippi. “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace.” We must let people into our hearts by grace. Where there is no grace, there are no partnerships. We are sometimes prone to putting distance between ourselves and others. How can we be partners in anything, much less the gospel, without a close emotional grace-filled connection?

    This doesn’t mean there will never be conflict or disagreement. I have disagreements with my kids, but my emotional attachment keeps me working through those disagreements. I don’t always agree with the direction Conventions take, but I realize that we are all partakers of the grace of God. That partnership is not something to discard but to work on each and every day.

So, on the Monday before the 2021 SBC Convention, I am praying that our partnership together will remain. As leaders, let’s spend less time criticizing those we disagree with and find a way to forge partnerships with those that can help us advance the gospel. The issues we face need addressing, but let us never lose sight of our goal to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12). You and your church can accomplish this goal better through partnerships.

These Scriptures Lead Me to Pray Like This…

“Father, cause me to connect right now with you in prayer. You created me for yourself and your purposes. You made it possible for me to not be your enemy but rather to know you in all the joy that flows between you, the Son, and Your Spirit.

Thank you, Jesus, for causing me to know You. The grace you have shown me is amazing. To be at peace with you and to have your peace living in me gives me such an undying joy.

Cause me to also be connected to others. Make me partners with others who are all about your plans and purposes. Teach me to enjoy relationships that are filled with Your grace and peace. Let me know the joy of connections that produce awesome memories. Lead me to have gracious, purposeful relationships.

Cause me to be thankful for all you are doing in and through others. Teach me to pray with joy for others.

I love You. Cause me to love others. May my connection with You and my connection to others always be joyfully glorifying to Jesus.”

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