Networking is Messy
Networking… partnering… cooperating… uniting or rallying…what term do you use? I am referring to you or your ministry connecting with other people or ministries for the purpose of reaching more people with the Gospel.
Most of us have come to the realization that our “ministry silos” have been about as successful as the tower of Babel. We have not retained existing members nor attracted new people to our circular bastions. We would like to partner with others but it just takes a lot of time and frankly sometimes it is…well…messy.
I am personally committed to partnering (networking) with others in order to accomplish more for the cause of Christ. We are all better together than we are by ourselves. (See Ephesians 4:1-16.) No, I am not suggesting that everybody join hands and sing Cum Ba Ya. And yes, there are some distinctives that may keep us from uniting on every level of ministry.
Perhaps a quote from a tract written by Rupertus Meldenius in 1627 says it best: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”(1) So with that as a backdrop, let me suggest five (5) keys to successful networking.
- Good ministry partnerships begin with relationships not just business agreements. (I will go so far as to say that if you do not establish relationships, the partnership will be short-lived and turbulent.)
- Good ministry partnerships are always win-win. (Both people or ministries should benefit: this should not be about one becoming a barnacle.)
- Good ministry partnerships are not afraid to take time to develop. (If someone tries to rush a partnership, then usually they are looking out for number one and not what is mutually beneficial.)
- Good ministry partnerships do not keep score. (If you feel that you have to keep score, then withdraw. – Remember, this should be a relationship, not a business deal.)
- Good ministry partnerships will be marked by authentic leadership. (If you cannot truly trust the other leadership as being godly people of integrity then, “be very afraid” and walk away.)
Networking is greatly rewarding! I believe it can be a picture of the body of Christ at work. It can be a way of accomplishing so much more for the cause of Christ without having to “re-invent the wheel” over and over. At the same time, go into it with your eyes wide open because it can also be messy. Just remember: sometimes…you make the mess too.
(1) Rupertus Meldenius, German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century. The phase appeared in a tract on Christian unity (circa 1627) during the Thirty Year War (1618-1648).