When a congregation, or team, focuses on itself, it never grows beyond itself.
The true gifts they could offer the world are shut up tight within their walls of preoccupation and selfish ignorance. Though the sign outside says, "All are welcome!" nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus put it this way; "If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me" Matthew 10.39. Additionally, when you forget about yourself in an authentic, humble, and intentional way, you begin to grow, improve behaviors, and become the blessing to others God created in advance for you to do (Eph. 2:11).
When a leadership team has a clear, other focused, focus, a clarity in mission, a congregation soon discovers they can't think they can do it all alone. This collaborative energy is freeing and energizing and I have seen it lead to exciting, new, emerging approaches to ministry.
When churches become less the point and the communities they are located in become the point, it is no longer about "My" church, but "Our" community, and when geographically proximate to other fellowships and congregations with a similar out-ward vision, collaboration is natural and compelling. Two or more outward-focused teams can choose to focus on achieving their mission goals together and not surprisingly, new options appear.
In consultation with teams such as the Committee on Ministry, Board of Trustees, and Mission Council, new energy has emerged from new, adaptive structures and relationships.
For example, Elmwood United PC in East Orange and the former Central PC in Newark found mutual blessing when they explored what could happen when more resources would be released by uniting together. Instead of focusing on what was, or what is, the leaders began to focus on what could be. The opportunities for congregational and community transformation was discovered together. Today, God has blessed the collaborative mission with multiplied outcomes.
Driven by a similar kind of mutual vision, leaders from three West Orange congregations aligned their resources to unite as the United PC of West Orange. With the collaborative effort of a Newark Presbytery Administrative Commission, new opportunities for common ministry took shape with many cascading benefits that have rippled throughout the region. By selling deteriorating buildings and repurposing property into more liquid resources, the new united congregation now occupies a common site that is shared equally with Elmwood United's other growing worship site.
What can your session or team do to have a better future, to grow? Where they focus their mission is the key to uncovering the enormous and awesome outcomes of collaborative mission. Your community deserves nothing less.