Although you may find yourself with enough work and family duties as a pastor or church leader, it can be life-changing to occasionally contribute your efforts to something bigger than yourself or your family. Namely, I'm talking about the big church, the capital "C" church. In other words, other congregations besides the one you Pastor. Getting your church and congregation to help other churches will bring new life, vision, and growth.
Doing something relevant and helpful for other churches opens your ministry in ways you may have yet to consider.
You may think you can barely keep things going and moving forward in your church, let alone help others. Yet, that is precisely the time to lead your church to invest in the life of another church's success and growth. God's universal principle of "sowing and reaping" is at work here. When you are struggling in your ministry, the most important thing you can do is to get into the sowing mode. It would help if you got more seeds in the ground for future harvest.
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV)
Ponder these positive benefits of helping (sowing into) other churches.
1. You strengthen your connections to others in God's work when you seek to help.
We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, especially in Kingdom work. The yearning to find fellowship and relationships with our brothers and sisters beyond our church walls will help us do just that. Assisting other churches forges strong bonds within your church and the capital "C" church. Your people need to remember and experience that they are a part of something bigger than your weekly gathering.
2. Giving something of yourself as a church increases your feelings of generosity.
God is a God of generosity. As pastors and church leaders, we teach this to our congregations. So, let's lead the way through our leadership of generosity from church to church. Of course, you may be struggling with needs in your church and congregation, and the best thing you can do is get generous as a church. It gets the focus off of ourselves and helps people to walk in faith and trust that God is our provider. We know that experiencing the joy of giving to others is one of the most incredible feelings you'll ever have. It's time to share that joy will your entire church and watch God work!
Knowing deep inside that you gave your time or effort to others from a heart of generosity that God has given will help you and your church see what an awesome God we serve.
3. It also feels great when others acknowledge your church is generous.
There is no greater joy and honor than to know that you are serving as the Pastor of a generous church. There is no self-gain in this, but rather a very humbling position to know that your people are willing to take on the character trait of God the Father and be ready to give and sacrifice. And the reward of seeing the value you add to the Kingdom of God through other churches that need help or need a boost, the thanks necessary to remain motivated to continue. When you hear another Pastor, another church leader, or another member from another congregation say, "Thanks," and shake your hand or hug you, you'll feel the incredible feeling of knowing that you and your church are a part of Jesus' mission to the world.
4. You discover more about your church and your people when you assist another church.
You will probably find that your people are with you more than you imagined and will see and experience a new level of leadership support. You may discover that you have a group of people who need to focus more on a greater vision than themselves. You'll find that others are attracted to a church that sees a bigger picture.
Perhaps your church will have a sense of new life when you begin to see the struggles and ministries of other churches who are in a different situation than your own.
5. You and your people will grow.
You grow most when you help others succeed. This is true spiritually, emotionally, and numerically. Why? Sowing and reaping! It is the basis of making a disciple. You may need to be one step ahead of another to add value to them. Your church is at least one step ahead of another church in your community that could use some help. And what's in it for you? Growth in every way.
(One of the fears that many of us as pastors struggle with in doing this is "what if our people decide to go and attend the church you are helping?" They might. Remember though they, we are shepherds of His flock, and He can and will move His sheep whenever and wherever He wants. I have to tell you I have had this happen. Some quality volunteer leaders move on to be a part of the leadership team of a church we serve. They have become a bridge for our church to continue helping other churches. We are viewed as a church that is generous not only with money and things but with our most important assets – people. God's plan to multiply is at work, and the more we have seen this happen, the more we live in God's blessings.)
6. It's a way to show God gratitude for everything you and your church are thankful for.
Most pastors and churches have experienced one or two rough spots in our lives and ministries when we needed help or guidance. Think of how much someone's assistance helped you in the past. You have the opportunity to pay it forward by serving others.
Consider these ideas to get started helping other churches:
Ask your congregation if they know of friends who attend another church in need. Doing this as part of a series or teaching on stewardship or generosity is powerful. (Lord of the Fries series link here)
Find a church in the area that may have an older congregation and offer to do a work day at their church to help them.
Make a special Christmas or Valentine's dinner to honor other pastors and church leaders you invite. (Your people can do the meal and serve and thank these usually unappreciated leaders for all they do to move the Kingdom forward day in and day out.)
Send a volunteer team to help support the ministry of another church. Often there are smaller churches that need worship leaders or someone to fill in for the Pastor to have a weekend off or even to serve in children or youth ministry until they can get folks recruited and trained. This is big picture vision, and your people will be attracted to serving on this level. This happens now in our church, where I often don't know or hear about it until after another Pastor thanks me. It's just becoming more and more of our DNA.
Share your sermon content or original small group content etc., with others. Funny to say that it is original; after all, we are just a cover band for Jesus. We are simply teaching His content. (Or at least we should be.) All the work we put into a sermon series could go well beyond your walls with other pastors who may be bi-vocational and not have the sermon prep time you have. Or they may need to be spending more time on leadership and shepherding. (At One Voice, I am always looking for Pastors that want to be a part of creating sermon content as a team with other Pastors that can then be turned into a One Voice series for churches. Contact me a firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested)
Listen and look for the physical or financial needs of other churches. Get the word out to your congregation to do the same. Often the needs of another church can be met by your church and celebrated. When you upgrade any equipment or facilities, look for others who need the equipment you upgraded from.
You can help others churches in life-enhancing ways for them and life-enriching for you and your church! You might be surprised by how God will use your congregation to be an answer to prayer for others. And the more you do this, the more you and your church will walk in a new level of faith and trust in God as The leader and Sustainer of your church. Check out your local organizations and decide where and how you'd like to be of service.
And yep, we are here to help and serve the church. So if y are struggling to provide curriculum for your Adults, kids, or youth and can't afford it, let me know. At One Voice, we are with you and are here for your success!