Multiplying when you’re not mega: Collaborating with others

By Colby Garman

There is an old African proverb that many of you have probably heard: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Churches that want to develop a legacy of sending church planters and helping them succeed have to decide they are on a journey they should not take alone.

Developing your church for multiplication requires building healthy partnerships like the one the apostle Paul had with the Philippian church. It was a partnership where Paul was seeking their genuine welfare, and they were supplying his genuine need. Because of the partnership, the gospel could not be chained, even when Paul was in prison.

Here are three keys we have learned at Pillar Church that will help as you consider developing partnership and collaboration that will last beyond your initial start.

1. Invest in mutual partnerships. Many of the churches and organizations that believed in you enough to resource the mission you started did not do it just so you can be a “successful” church planter. They did it because they care about the spread of the gospel through whoever is willing to carry the flag to the front lines. Avoid the mistake of neglecting or destroying the relationships you built with your key partners. If you value what they are trying to accomplish through the partnership, you will find them to be ready team members when you are preparing to send out your next church planting team.

If you want to create a movement of multiplication you will need to do it as part of great team of mutual collaboration. In the world of sports, it is axiomatic that truly great players make their teammates better. The same is true in the world of church multiplication: The best planters help make their partners better.

2. Invite people into “ground floor” moments. When we started the Praetorian Project, people who had not yet committed to join us in the work were regularly invited to join us in development meetings. We were trying to solve problems, and we needed more perspective. We discovered something in the process that still shapes how we tackle future opportunities: Invite people into “ground floor” moments. Something powerful happens in our hearts when we contribute to building a vision, rather than just buying into it. It is exciting! You feel like you can make a significant contribution. Before long, you are willing to do whatever it takes.

If you feel like your partners are not excited about your next project in church planting, begin to invite them in earlier and build the vision together. When you do, everyone wins, and the willingness to engage in the work for the long haul always increases.

3. Initiate new arrangements for partnership. Too often, when working with denominational partners, church leaders decide what they think their partners would (and would not) be willing to do. Every organization or partner church you work with has to find standardized ways to organize their support of church planting work, but they often are willing to act with flexibility when they see a good idea. Personally, I have watched as our state convention (the SBC of Virginia), NAMB, and the IMB have all found ways to use their systems to facilitate our willingness to engage in multiplication. If you will lead the way in doing what God calls the church to do in developing and raising up workers, your partners will find a way to throw fuel on the fire. They have not simply given us whatever we asked for, but instead helped us forge a more effective work as we all labor for the same goal.

If you have an idea, do not assume it doesn’t fit or that the doors are closed with your partner organizations.Present your ideas with boldness and vision and let them help you figure out how to shape what to do next.

In one of his presidential speeches on the economy, President John Kennedy mentioned a powerful slogan he had seen at a local Chamber of Commerce: “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” We need a rising tide of collaboration and partnership to fuel the mission of God’s people in spreading the gospel, not just one great new church. When you create an environment of collaboration with your partners in the work of multiplication, you go beyond accomplishing what God has called you to do. You raise the level of what is possible for everyone involved, and you provide inspiration for others who are yet to engage.

Published June 26, 2018

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Colby Garman

Colby Garman pastors Pillar Church in Dumfries, Virginia. Pillar is a church dedicated to developing and sending its members for church planting in greater D.C., military communities around the world, and cross-culturally in wild places like Reykjavik, Iceland. Outside of that, he is best known as the husband of Annie Garman and father of four hilarious daughters: Haley, Darcy, Gracie, and Penelope.