Several years ago in another life, I was asked to provide some leadership training sessions for campus ministers in neighboring state. I always enjoyed these opportunities for dialogue with colleagues. One of the topics I addressed on this occasion was the importance of collaboration in ministry. My intention was to discuss the value of working together and learning from other people. I was surprised by the response of at least one of the participants. He said, "Well, yeah! That's just common sense." Maybe it is, but how many of us practice it?
We often see Christians violating the collaboration ideal in two ways. First, we want to compete rather than collaborate. Second, we assume that we (or some particular person) is the expert with the final answer.
I have often found that much of value is not only offered but discovered in collaboration. When people with different experiences, backgrounds, and gifts gather around an issue or project about which they sincerely care and make their best contributions, great things happen. When the process is allowed to play out, the results can be amazing.
This concept is rooted in spiritual truth. Alan Roxburgh reinforced my understanding of this when I heard him say (I paraphrase his comments), "The Spirit of God is among the people of God providing the guidance that they need." If we sincerely believe that each believer is uniquely gifted and called to build up the body of Christ, we embrace this concept.
We don't need outside experts with answers. We do need those who can lead us in the process of perceiving the work of God in our midst. This happens as we collaborate, bringing our best to the table. This is the Spirit at work.