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Collaboration Across Countries: Part One

Norway. Philippines. Australia. Cambodia. Taken as a collective, these countries aren’t typically thought of as similar. Humanity has a history of dividing the world into neat, easy categories based on geographic, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and philosophical lines. We rely on these categories to make sense of our world because even a cursory glance at these four countries shows that they speak different languages, have different economic engines, celebrate different holidays, have different cultural and societal mores, etc…. Yet more and more they rely on each other, often in invisible ways.

It’s almost a cliché today to speak of our globally connected world, we hear about it all the time and easily see it on TV or through a quick Internet search. We know that we are increasingly reliant on people we’ve never met or spoken with to buy our goods and services to keep the world economy moving. Countries trade grain for cell phones, pop music for washing machines, ideas for oil. Most of us know and recognize the importance of that interdependence in the economic and political sectors of our lives, yet we might not have given serious thought to how the global church is increasingly a similar force in our lives.

We need each other. The church needs our brothers and sisters. Just as the world’s superpowers are becoming more a coalition of like-minded nations than a single, dominant nation,

the church is a group of global people connected in local ways that can change the fabric of our world through interdependence and collaboration.

Global thinking can teach us new ways of developing leaders, allow us to hear new strategies for meeting the changing emotional needs of our neighbors, collaborate across ethnic and linguistic lines to strengthen the local church, trade resources to continue planting more and more churches, and swap stories for encouragement and growth. This type of collaboration is the way of the future, the way of Jesus’ Great Collaboration command as seen in John 17:20-23.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

God’s intent was that the church would be a global family, a global entity to reach ALL people, in ALL locations, at ALL times. And for the first time in history, that is within our reach!

But this can only happen if we look past shallow, surface differences to see what we can learn from each other. Being content with thinking that our problems and our congregations are unique won’t take us very far. Old attitudes close us off from the global wisdom of the church and keep us isolated instead of engaged.

We need each other. A good case study for this can be seen by looking at how the church is at work in Norway, Cambodia, Philippines, and Australia. Join us over the next three weeks to explore that interconnectedness together.