Today, it seems that being independent is the highest of human virtues. We don’t want to have to depend on others and we don’t want others to depend on us. Life, however, is not designed like that. We see all throughout creation that God has a design for life to work and function interdependently. When we consider how the church is meant to function, it is vital that we carry the same wisdom from creation into how we lead God’s people and do our part to see the church healthy.
Interdependence is all about how the ministries within your church are connected. I want you to imagine that you and the other leaders of your church are holding on to a hula-hoop. Now, imagine that one of the other leaders decides to walk across the room. Obviously, that is going to effect the other leaders and they are going to have to move with him or her. Unless, they are not connected. This is the place to start. It is extremely vital that all of the ministries in our churches are connected, holding on to the proverbial “hula-hoop”. If for some reason, a ministry is not connected, we have to come to one of two conclusions. Either the ministry is legitimately disconnected by our own doing as leaders and is standing alone, or the ministry is rightly not connected because it is no longer relevant to the vision of the church. In this case, the ministry either needs to be re-invented or shut down.
3 Keys to Develop Interdependence:
Key #1 – There are no short cuts
In a time of “get rich quick” schemes and overnight weight loss pills it can be so tempting to carry the same way of thinking into building the church. Nothing happens overnight. Nothing happens by accident. It’s important to step back and look at the big picture of the church and its functions, analyzing how we can make consistent and sustainable change. Sometimes, if we are leading a church that doesn’t have tons of moving parts we have the freedom and ability to make changes quickly. If you are in a larger church you have to make changes in consistent increments. Either way, you need every ministry to grab an oar in order to turn the boat.
We may feel pressure to improve only one area of ministry without seeing how it relates to other elements, but if we fail to keep a focus on interdependence, we may see quick results in that area, but the long-term results will be counterproductive.
This leads us into the next key.
Key #2 – One decision effects another
When we make a decision to act there are countless effects, whether intended or not. It is a skill to be able to anticipate these side effects. I don’t know if you have ever seen those pharmaceutical ads on TV but, I find them borderline humorous, This is because the side effects that come with most of these medicines take up the majority of the airtime, and for the most part sound worse then the current symptoms. I love the example that Christian Schwartz uses in “Colour Your World with NCD” on this topic. He asked the question, “Would it be a good idea for a church to hire a full-time evangelist?” The answer is, “Maybe” The side effect could be that because there is a full time on staff Evangelist it is no longer the responsibility of every member of the church to evangelize the people in their sphere. As another example, there was even a time when certain churches were against the idea of children’s Sunday school, because they were afraid that parents would neglect their responsibility of disciplining their children.
The decision to add children’s ministry or a full-time evangelist would not necessarily be wrong decisions, but we have to be watching for the long-term affects of our choices.
Key #3 – “The All By Itself” principle still applies
Never has a parent caused their child to grow faster by standing on their feet and pulling them up by the arms, but as leaders in our churches that’s often what we think we will have to do in order to see growth. Whenever we are implementing change we have to remember that the “All By Itself” principle still applies. We still have to sow the seed of change, water the seed, God makes it grow, and then everyone in the church benefits from the harvest.
In closing, the necessity of cultivating Interdependence may seem like a chore; it could just be easier to make decisions quickly and “get it done”. I encourage you with this: the amount of energy it takes to make decisions with interdependence in mind is much less then the energy it will take to undo a poor decision in the long run.
Pastor Bryan Pue, Bryan@latitudeministries.com