Collaboration. It’s a buzz-word in corporate settings these days, but what is it really? From biblical perspective, collaboration is the tangible fruit of unity. The Body of Christ was never intended to be segmented or divided into isolated pockets of activity. God’s plan has always been that Christ followers, no matter where they live, what socioeconomic tax bracket they fall into, or how much pigment he placed in their skin, would work to win the lost and equip the saved. Together.
In our current society, with all of our Burger King Theology (I’ll have things my way), it becomes very difficult to see beyond our own youth ministries or to truly practice unity outside of our own churches. We have programs to plan. We have parents to please. We have students to teach. We have tasks to accomplish. Alone. This disconnectedness confuses our students in an increasingly networked and connected digital world.
So how can we really practice unity? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Look around. If we could pause for even a few minutes and take inventory of other churches and youth ministries close to us, we’d understand that we’re closer to each other than we think.
2. Reach out. Make a phone call. Send an email. Stop by unexpectedly. Grab some coffee with another youth minister. We’re all part of the Body. Get to know another brother or sister in Christ, and you’ll experience a different and unique part of the Body.
3. Dream together. Once you have found other like-minded youth ministers, dream up some crazy ideas that you could all pull off together, and only together. Unity requires that each part of the Body plays its role. Host a multi-church worship service. Plan a multi-church mission trip. Develop a multi-church strategy for the junior high or senior high campus. Catalyze a multi-church prayer service.
4. Stretch the circle wider. As you begin to experience the joy that’s an inevitable outcome of unity, invite others to join the dance. Reach into the city if you’re suburban. Reach into the suburbs if you’re urban. Reach into the rural areas if you live in a metropolitan area. Hit up the churches on the closest Native American reservation and invite them to dance too!
United we stand.
Chris Brooks has been working with youth and families for the past 15 years, primarily in an inner-city context. He has served on staff with churches, juvenile corrections, public schools, the National Network Of Youth Ministries, and the Willow Creek Association. Chris lives in the Twin Cities with his wife Bobbi, his 2 children, and a Chihuahua named Chico.