Yesterday, I posted some expanded thoughts on Unity & Cooperation within college ministries. Not only is this one of the topics that comes up most often in my chats with college ministers, but the theme has arisen several times on this trip.
Here are some additional thoughts, first written in a comment during in the Campus Ministry Blogference, but now edited and expanded a bit:
how do we decide when / how to cooperate with other ministries?
I start with assuming that we keep our actual commitments – obeying our particular leaders and keeping our promises. Cooperation that demands we break our allegiance to our particular organization, church, or other overseers isn’t really doable, is it?
But beyond that, I don’t think there’s a Magic Rule to be applied every time (though we would all prefer a Rule).
Instead, we should take each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, evaluating what is gained and lost and comparing that with the outcomes we’ve already determined to aim for within our ministry. So if we haven’t cataloged each semester what our Aims are, all is lost already! I can’t make a good decision about cooperation if I don’t know how it might help (or hurt) my ministry’s goals.
For some of us, taking each opportunity on a case-by-case basis will provide a remedy to our knee-jerk acceptance of any and all cooperative invitations. For others of us, it will fight our auto-assumption that each invitation couldn’t possibly be worth our time, input, or effort.
My bold guess? Either always cooperating or never cooperating with other ministries is likely unhealthy.
I would aargue that our Aims should likely include goals that involve the bigger campus tribe. It’s hard for me to imagine that any ministry should be satisfied with a reputation as the “aloof ones,” whether rightly or wrongly deserved. But those campus-wide goals shouldn’t be our only goals, either, so it’s likely we’ll need to say No quite a bit.
An example of weighing cooperation with our Aims: Perhaps you’re invited to give up one Large Group a semester for a Multi-Ministry event. Giving up that Large Group will indeed interfere with your goals for Large Group – perhaps Evangelism or Teaching a certain topic or Building Community in your ministry or all of the above.
However, it may be worth it because of what you gain – perhaps helping the campus as a whole thrive, providing an outward show of unity (which also helps with Evangelism in its own way), building students’ unity with other believers, and influencing students with the emphasis of the event. So in that case, cooperation may be wise – while some Aims are set aside, others are accomplished.
In other cases, cooperation may not be the best move.
Once again, the big suggestion: Take each opportunity at face value, and discern what’s best for your students that time around.
Written from Motel 6, Salina, KS
Road Trip 14 recap, Day 12
new campuses: Fort Hays State University (#11) Kansas Wesleyan University (#12), & Bethany College (#13)
yesterday: some great chats with college ministers at FHSU that worked out at the last minute, and a little drivin’ and campus-visitin’
today: not exactly sure (for the 2nd day in a row), but making my way through Kansas!