According to Merriam Webster to share is to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others. When it comes to shared ministry, we most often think of others helping share the workload or responsibility. How would your church’s ministry evolve if shared ministry would instead be considered an opportunity to experience and enjoy others?
All churches, but smaller churches in particular often struggle to identify, recruit, equip, and deploy enough servant leaders for their current ministries. It is mostly out of this scarcity mindset that churches turn to shared ministries. Rather than shared ministry being an intentional method of ministry from an abundance model, unfortunately it is often an alternative only when the church can no longer provide the ministry as a stand alone church.
When churches come together with intentionality discerning God’s preferred future for a shared ministry, they can serve their community much better. Through this shared ministry approach, churches can align their unique giftedness specifically towards pursuing God’s preferred future. Not only are there more helping hands, but there is laser focus. This laser focus provides the often needed permission for other ministries to be placed on the back burner. While focusing on one particular ministry area may feel limiting, this kind of niche ministry approach is more effective. Concentrated focus, efforts, attention, and resources will provide more kingdom impact instead of the usual scattered unfocused approach when we are trying to be all things to all people. This focused approach also minimizes burnout and fatigue.
If all the benefits mentioned thus far haven’t sold you on shared ministry, consider this next benefit. Shared ministry also eliminates duplication. Think about how many tasks each and every church performs daily, weekly, and monthly. The list is endless, but here are a few to consider: website updates and maintenance, email blasts, newsletters, bulletins, the recording of gifts, paying bills, payroll, sending out quarterly giving statements, live streaming, recording worship and uploading to the website and/or other platforms, social media posts, worship planning, slides for worship, planning music, children’s ministry, youth ministry, small group studies, food pantries, clothing closets, community meals, facility maintenance, and many more. If churches were to consider a more shared ministry approach, how many of these tasks, operations, and ministries could be shared instead of each church doing them individually? Rather than every church having to find individuals to perform all of these tasks, what if multiple churches shared these together? For example, what if a person in one church who had the passion and experience for accounting kept books for several churches instead of every church having to find one on their own? What if a person in another church had the skill and expertise to maintain and update all the websites and social media platforms for all the churches?
Sharing is having the opportunity to experience and enjoy others. Ministry is all about relationships. Ultimately, ministry is leading people to an ever deepening relationship with Jesus. It often starts with a relationship with new neighbors who we invest our time and talents in through ministry so that we might have the opportunity to share our own faith story. It is through those intentional relationships that we get to know one another, become more comfortable with one another, have the opportunity to experience life together, and enjoy the companionship of one another. All the other benefits of shared ministry are good, but the relational benefits of shared ministry are the best!
If your church would like to explore shared ministry, check out this resource for guidance and support.