Our new church is in a healthy place because of the grace of God and the investment of many individuals, churches and organizations. To put it another way, apart from generous kingdom partnerships, we would not be where we are. Period. We are not smart enough. We are not savvy enough. We are not strategic enough. We desire to be all of that, but it takes more than that. One of the best ways to cultivate and strengthen kingdom partnerships is through extending gratitude. Let me give you a few suggestions for doing so:
- Communicate frequently. One simple way to express thanks is through regular updates to partners. It seems obvious, but every update provides an opportunity to extend gratitude for their partnership. Anytime you communicate.
- Be specific. Tell them why they matter to you personally. Tell them how that one email came at just the right moment when you were at a low point. Tell them how the Bibles they sent helped lead a new friend to faith in Jesus and another new believer learn to read the Bible for themselves for the first time. Tell them how their financial gifts enabled you to reach 400 people at your last community outreach.
- Be timely. Anyone ever sent a thank you note or thank you video, twelve months late? I would never do that, but I’m sure you would, so stop it! Yes, church planter, we all know you’re busy, but probably no busier than most of your congregation or the pastor at your partnering church. Get other people to assist you with the logistics as necessary, but let’s (yes, I admit it, me too) get. it. done.
- Be personal. You could send a newsletter via MailChimp, but a personal email would be better. You can send an email, but why not a phone call? You make a call, but what about FaceTime or Skype? You can schedule a FaceTime, but how about face-to face? This is more meaningful and more biblical. Think Jesus. Yes, the incarnation. And he clearly rubbed off on his closest followers. With much fewer communication tools in the first century, the Apostle John penned this, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face.” Why John? “…so that our joy may be complete.” John, drop the mic.
- Show up, and serve them. At Redemption Hill, we believe true partnership is just that, a partnership. Partnerships involve partners. That’s more than one party, a two-way street. Find a way to go serve them. If you’re not invited back, ask to come back and share a word of gratitude on a Sunday. And don’t worry. God is big enough to keep your church intact for one week.
- Do a great job. People have prayed hundreds of prayers for you and your church. People have given thousands of dollars to you and your church. Churches have sent dozens of people to serve you and your church. Do your best to honor their investment by how you serve. When we persevere in sharing the news of Jesus with a neighbor, organize another excellent community outreach, preach another sermon to the best of our ability and train another volunteer, not only are we honoring Jesus, we are also honoring those who partner with us in gospel work.
Why not spend five to ten minutes today to communicate a specific, timely and personal word of gratitude to one of your partners? Set a reminder, or do it right now. It will lift them up, strengthen your relationship, serve the mission, clear your conscience, and most importantly, reflect the heart of Jesus.
Published February 20, 2017