"... of your partnership in the gospel..." Phil 1:3
"... I John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and patient endurance that are in Jesus" Rev 1:9
We are all on a quest to be both biblically accurate, prophetically obedient and culturally relevant. This is never easy, holding all these ideas in tension. It is not only seeking to be as close to the text as we can be, it is also placing all the conversations through the grid of "what does the Lord require of me?"
Whenever we try to find language to describe a togetherness, we are stepping a little into the arena of what is 'abiblical'. By this I mean, there is no clear biblical language that we can say is unequivocally textually true and must be adhered to without discussion.
For this reason, when this togetherness is declared, phrases like the following are used: "I belong to this brotherhood", "I am a member of this denomination", "I am connected in with this network", "I relate to this team". It is not too difficult to see why this kind of language is used.
However, the two verses mentioned above have been very empowering for us. Not only is the brother piece, a great intro to the notion of "a family of churches", but being "partners" especially around the "gospel", finds us exactly where we want to be - gospel centered and doing life with mates.
Partnership makes sense for the following summarized reasons:
1. The local church is the divine emphasis, not the translocal gifts, they walk alongside not over;
2. There is no evidence of local churches living and operating alone in the scriptures. It looks like they were always connected in with apostles, prophets...
3. We love each local church living in the full measure of the mandate that God has for them and the E4 gifts are there to empower them to that end;
4. The E4 gifts can partner by bringing in the big picture, matched with the ascension gifts that Christ gave, to build his church. The local churches can partner with the apostles by providing a base for these gifts to reside in, operate out of, offering community, adding muscle power, being launch pads for the next pioneering work, contributing to global gospel costs...
5. There is therefore room for both 'sons' leading partner churches as well as 'orphan' leaders and churches, sharing a common assignment, that has to be real, authentic and collaborative.
We will explore this in more detail later. This DNA piece of partnership will look gloriously unique in each situation. This requires humility, honor, gift recognition, relationship and the desire to be part of a bigger story than 1 church can achieve.