In the introduction of John C. Maxwell’s book The Power of Partnership in the Church, he presents us with a concept that we lose in most church organizations. Maxwell calls it partnership by I believe it is better termed interdependency. Although this book is aimed at pastors and renewing the life of the church, I believe the concept needs to go beyond just the walls of the pastor’s office. Too much of the church has either become a cult of personality ruled by the dynamics and charisma of a single person, an elect group (sometimes family owned and operated) or it is a one person power-play where all power sits in the hands of a central leader.
Maxwell states that we live in a society that no longer looks to the church for answers and yet purpose of the Church was and is to reach the world. The question that needs to be posed is why has that happened? It is because the church looks like every other organization in the society that the church is supposed to be counter-cultural too. Its identity has been confused and muddled into a system of hierarchy stratification where only a few participate and the rest simply follow. You see it over and over again. That is why there is so much burn-out in the church and why no one needs another social organization to pay dues too.
Maxwell concentration is in the pastor’s ability to raise up a dynamic and influential church in the society but that is not the pastor’s job. The pastor is to teach and empower the church to do the work of the kingdom.
Maxwell is right in sighting the writer of Ecclesiastes as having the answer to the dilemma.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has not one to help him up”(4:9-11 NKJV).
The ancient writer insight was about interdependency. It enables the church to meet the challenges of ministry with greater strength, tap into more resources and reap greater victory for the kingdom of God. Interdependency multiplies the potential of ministry. It enables and empowers everyone to do the work of the kingdom as the Holy Spirit leads not as one individual or organizational structure determines.
Mother Theresa is attributed with the following statement that I believe sums up how the church is to respond and do the work of the kingdom –
You can do what I cannot do, I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.