Part Four: The Shift of the Great Collaboration
We need each other! 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. The Church is a group of global people connected in local ways that can change the fabric of our world through interdependence and collaboration.
(If you haven’t read the other three posts in this series, we highly recommend that you do so and then come back to join the conversation!)
And so, in Norway, churches are finding ways to contribute to people’s emotional well being by giving time through their talents and relationships. Rather than focusing on poverty work, like many churches globally must do, they are ministering to lonely and isolated people. This experience can guide many countries that are on track for having similar levels of isolated and lonely adults. In addition, Norwegian churches are using their economic affluence to partner with churches in India and other places in the world, which has allowed them to have an impact outside of their communities and show their neighbors what Christian love and collaboration look like.
Cambodian churches are finding ways to build connection to people by pulling on the international leadership skills offered by churches globally. These leadership trainings give perspective and reassurance of how God has shown up to change cultures across the world while giving practical tools to invest in the next generation, knowing that they in turn will become the mature leaders needed for the church to expand and grow into a thriving force in a still-recovering country. Loneliness and isolation can open the door for the church to meet real emotional needs.
The Filipino church is finding innovative ways to have church gatherings happen despite material abundance. They aren’t daunted by the challenges, but can remind the global Church that church is the group of people, not the building. As their partnerships with other churches flourish though, more and more churches are given the gift of security from temperamental weather. This will help them to weather the storms of cultural change happening.
And this new movement of house churches partnering with established denominations in Australia provides hope for countries undergoing similar demographic shifts. We have reason to trust that the Church is a global body, united in Christ, given gifts that can bless one another and lead us to fuller and truer engagement with each other and our contexts.
Meanwhile, there is so much potential for collaboration. Church leaders from the Philippines can sit down the church leaders in Australia to talk about the dynamics of house churches and what their transition from informal to formal settings has been like, gleaning experience from each other. Together they can provide wisdom for the gathering of God’s people.
Additionally as demographics shift in Norway with more refugees and immigrants being welcomed, church leaders in Australia could provide their stories and experiences for perspective and encouragement to show that bridging ethnic and linguistic can have powerfully positive impacts on the Church.
We are not alone.
Ministry can be hard, and our situations can feel unique and insurmountable. Yet out of the box solutions happen when churches aren’t afraid of embracing the changing demographics and emotional needs, but see them as new expressions of God’s work and opportunity for ministry. We see this in Norway, in Australia, in the Philippines, in Cambodia, and across the world.
In a world where everything changes rapidly, we know that in a decade our environments will look different because of globalization – our culture, our language, our economy, and even our churches will be different. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen while fretting.
Engaging in collaborative efforts strengthens each of us, from providing leadership training, to ushering in paradigm shifts, to bringing spiritual revival, to being examples of bridging seemingly impossible ethnic or language barriers, to providing wisdom and experience. Together the church is poised to be on the front edge of this new world.
To do this, we focus not on building our own kingdoms, our churches, our multi-sites, but began to think about how we can contribute to the world and in turn be changed. A shift is happening!
But the biggest shirt is that for the upcoming church generation, we will no longer be content to think of ourselves as the church of America, or the church of Cambodia, or the church of Norway. No, we are the global Church and we are interconnected, collaborative, and poised to change the fabric of our world.
Are you ready?