I have been thinking, praying and talking with some other pastors about this idea of "Partnership" and honestly have struggled. Through prayer and thought, this is my biggest concern. It has been hard for me to really think through why I have this feeling in my gut that we need to start to have partnerships. Here are my reasonings that I have thought through. Much of these thoughts came from an awesome conversation with Jason Brinkley who is a wonderful man of God and a dear friend.
A Biblical Reason: Christ is committed to the church.
"...Christ loved the church, and he gave his life for it." Ephesians 5:25
They typical argument against this is that, "we don't need to sign a paper in order to be committed to something." Agreed, however, if for some reason people are not willing to go through a formal process to be committed to the local church, than we are forced to ask the question, "why"? What is it about a formal commitment that is scary or not necessary to them?
A Cultural Reason: It is an antidote to our society.
We live in an age where very few want to be committed to anything...a job...a marriage...our country. This attitude has even produced a generation of "church shoppers and hoppers". Partnership swims against the current of America's "consumer religion." It is an unselfish decision where we come together and formally agree to invest in each other.
A Practical Reason: It defines who can be counted on.
Every team must have a roster. Every school must have an enrollment. Every business has a payroll. Every army has an enlistment. Even our country takes a census and requires voter registration. Partnership identifies our family. I personally think we need a way to discern who we are spending our time with and investing in. Who's on our team? I thought of it like this....In my basketball days, I couldn't imagine my coaches investing in me if I wasn't fully committed to the team. We as the leaders of the church need to identify who is on our team (Netcast) and begin to spend the majority of our time investing in them. I see this where we are commanded to "equip the saints for the ministry." Without a process to identify who is partnered with us, it makes it hard to be a good steward which saints we should be equipping with our time and resources as things progress. This may not seem like a big deal now, but as Netcast grows and has staff and other pastors, community group leaders, etc.....we will want to know who is invested in us and therefore who we should be most invested in.
A Personal Reason: It produces spiritual growth.
The New Testament places a major emphasis on the need for Christians to be accountable to each other for spiritual growth. We all know the verses. For those of us who have been out of biblical community for any amount of time, we know that we cannot be accountable when we're not committed to our church family. This process of partnership will help us with that. Committing to Community forces you into accountability which in turns deepens knowledge, maturity, holiness and Christlikeness. In the end, I truly believe that partnership will be a means of God's grace that will protect the unity and maturity of Netcast. As a committed people, we will in the end, be better worshippers of Jesus.
A Leadership Reason: It defines Netcast leaders.
I define leadership as anyone who is visibly leading someone at Netcast; this can be a community group leader, staff, anyone on the worship team, any ministry head, etc. Currently, we really do not have any means of knowing who we should and should not allow lead. This is a scary thing for our ministry because we are growing fast and need more leaders. Thus, the temptation will be to put people into leadership because of need rather than their qualifications. Not everyone is biblically qualified to lead. If partnership is the first step towards leadership, than it allows us to quickly see who are candidates for leadership. Currently, I have allowed and appointed leaders at Netcast with no process and by God's grace, we are forming a solid and united team. However, in the future, for the protection of that unity, it is absolutely necessary to have a system or process in place for people to work their way into leadership.