I have become more acutely aware of the importance of “church cooperation” working with a congregation that operates a school of preaching. To get every student here and to support every teacher who prepares them for ministry, several congregations and individuals must give to make this a reality. Those who contribute range from the very wealthy to the financially struggling, the highly educated to those not as much, the urban to the rural, and from the west coast to the east coast. Congregations who give may be large or tiny. But, all are needed and each works together to help produce men prepared to fulfill their ministry.
“Church cooperation” also is a term which applies to a necessary, internal function. Within the church, there must exist a spirit and willingness to work together despite our differences—be it race, societal status, religious background (whether raised in the church or converted), and the like. God anticipated such diversity, but still expects unity. He is displeased with multiple, divergent “agendas” and frowns most emphatically upon self-seeking and self-serving individuals. Whatever would fuel division, pride, fleshly lusts, greed, or worldly philosophies, must be identified and scuttled. Paul wrote one congregation, saying, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phi. 2:1-4). Why cooperate? Because of Christ and what He has done. How cooperate? Positively, by oneness of mind, love, spirit, purpose, and humility. Negatively, by avoiding selfishness, conceit, and serving self-interest.
How easy it is to read that divine guidance, but how hard to practice! Yet, it is essential to a congregation thriving and growing…together! The sobering thing is that each of us is either a cooperator or a coagulator (hardening and hindering). That is determined by our attitude, words, and decisions. May we each resolve to be a “church cooperator”!