War Time Spirit
I am old enough to remember my parents and grandparents talking about the ‘war time spirit’, when everyone pulled together. Working together, helping friends and neighbours, sharing what they had, coming to the rescue of those in need – it was all part of how life was in the 1940s. Working together in partnership helped everyone achieve more than they could on their own.
That sense of supporting each other and looking out for each other surfaced again in 2020 as many individuals and churches have risen to the challenges presented to us by Covd-19. Some of the most heartening stories that have emerged have been those where new partnerships have formed so that together we can make a difference.
Churches working together in a local community. Or setting up new partnerships with statutory and voluntary groups so that by working together far more has been accomplished. Of volunteers from different churches coming together to set up a new project to bless the local community.
The bible is full of stories of partnerships
Peter and James and John working together to land their supernaturally large catch of fish. Esther and her maid servants and Mordecai fasting and praying together for God to intervene and rescue the Jewish people. Paul and his travelling companions, Barnabas, Mark and Timothy, planting churches wherever they went on their Missionary journeys. There is spiritual significance when people work together for Kingdom purposes.
Successful partnerships are all about relationships, and guarding those relationships is key. Of course, Relationships are between people, not organisations. For us as Christians how we relate to each other is key. “Love one another as I have loved you” Jesus said to his disciples in John 13:4. It is a challenge to choose wisely when we enter into partnerships, even with other Christians, making sure that our vision is clear and we share the same goals.
During the last few months, we have seen with startling clarity how one determined voice, joined by other voices, can make an enormous difference. Marcus Rashford used his high profile as a successful footballer to campaign for the extension of the free school meals scheme over the summer holidays. His message was simple and straightforward, his intention was clear. The power of his personal story helped to win others over onto his side – and hundreds of thousands of families were better cared for as a result.
It may not always work in the long term
If there are warning signs that a partnership might require us to compromise more than we can face – then its probably not the right partnership for us. That doesn’t mean that the other potential partner was wrong, and that we were right. One church might be subject to different governance from its denomination which could make it more challenging to work with someone else, than another church which sets its own agenda but perhaps doesn’t have all the legal protections and safeguarding structures in place.
Even though we know that – working together can be complex. For some reason it can be almost more challenging than anything else to work together with others. Under pressure, under attack, our relationships can fray, and we can sometimes lose sight of our original vision and focus. Even Paul eventually parted company with Barnabas over a disagreement.
But this shouldn’t hold us back. Some partnerships are forever, some are just for a season, all of them are beneficial in one way or another – enabling us to reach new people, harness new skills or learn more about ourselves.