Cooperation – the process of working together to the same end.
By Brian Everett
Pastor, Allen Heights Baptist Church
I fear that we are losing “cooperation” as Baptists as time marches on. I have been that pastor that has gone to all the meetings of the state convention, national convention, associational meetings and gatherings only to leave with a feeling that there is a lack of unity and lack of cooperation with Baptist churches that desire to work together for the kingdom of God, even the churches that are just a few blocks away.
We would rather compete, than cooperate. Because in the end, there must be a feeling that God is keeping count of the numbers instead of “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) How well did you serve is the question, not how many you gathered. In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches a strong lesson in His story, “the Parable of the Talents.” Jesus was talking more about the slave’s attitude towards what he had been given, not all about what he accomplished with it.
Founded in 1707, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, now affiliated with the American Baptist Churches (USA), has assisted countless churches in starting, developing, growing, and extending the Gospel through a unified message and effort. (http://www.sbclife.net/article/1533/baptist-associations-celebrating-300-years) We are the ones who “cooperate together”, since the formation of associations, to do the work of the kingdom. From the smaller church, who are doing everything they can to keep the few together that gather on Sunday, who need a helping hand with Vacation Bible School this summer because they have two kids in Sunday School from K-6th Grade, to the larger church who has the resources, capacity and “servant’s heart” to reach across the county to help and serve them.
To the one hundred person church, the average size Southern Baptist Church, that needs help with evangelism training that finds another church right next door to them who are willing to give of their time and resources to disciple them and even take them out in the city to show them how to share the gospel. This is the association. This is cooperation. This is the kingdom work that we can do together that makes a greater impact on the communities and cities we are trying to reach.
I appreciate the efforts that churches in our association are making to help one another. To disciple one another. To care for each other. Here is where we see “assisting” and “developing” take place that was the spirit of the Baptist Association over 300 years ago. To extend the gospel to every home in our cities. To labor side by side to see Jesus made famous. Obeying the Great Commission that Jesus has given us.
I desperately need the fellowship and prayers of other pastors. Pastors that are facing the same battles and struggles that I am. I need to know that they care that I am serving right down the street from them. I need sincerity in conversations and actions. I need help with certain things in the church I serve. I am not an island. I must also be willing to invest in others. I am willing. I would give the needed time. My spiritual, physical and mental health depends on it. But the looming question is, “Are you there?” A mentor once told me, “Brian, they know you care when you’re there.” The ministry of presence is huge.
Some of the greatest relationships with other pastors who are good friends are made in the association. Some of the most meaningful prayer times I have had are with other pastors in the association who had the time to pray with me and I with them. Some of the greatest mission and ministry moments I have experienced were when I was a part of churches working together for the kingdom of God.
I encourage you to reach out – to connect, collaborate and engage – with other churches in our association. You will be amazed as to what the Holy Spirit will do, when you take a walk with Him working side by side with brothers and sisters in Christ to reach Collin County.