FIRST-PERSON: Evaluating Kingdom partnerships
GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) -- The Great Commission is the responsibility of the local church, where God expects each Christian to leverage his or her resources most effectively toward its fulfillment.
In this stewardship, churches must constantly evaluate their Kingdom partnerships.
Whether this partnership is with a local Baptist association, a state convention, a national entity, an individual missionary, community benevolence programs or any number of other good causes, it needs to be evaluated regularly. Every penny given through the local church deserves to be stewarded toward its maximization in Kingdom impact.
Here are four questions to ask when evaluating your Kingdom partnerships:
1) What do they believe about the Bible?
In Amos 3:3 God asks, "How can two walk together unless they agree?" Total agreement on every scriptural point is not likely, but the fundamental doctrines of the local church should be in harmony with those of her Kingdom partners.
Every congregation must decide which issues are peripheral and which are essential. Southern Baptists work together under the banner of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 in which essential doctrines are agreed upon such as biblical inerrancy, ecclesiological offices, the natures of God and of man, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, God's design for human sexuality, and more.
If the Kingdom partner does not share your core convictions about the Bible, you will often find yourself misrepresented and frustrated. At least once each year, evaluate your Kingdom partnerships by asking the question, "What do they believe about the Bible?"
2) What, exactly, do they do with the funds?
The Lord Jesus asks in Luke 16:11, "If you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?"
Your church, as a matter of good management, should know where her Kingdom dollars are being spent. Of the funds your church invests in this organization, what percentage goes to overhead or administrative costs? What percentage goes to state, national and international Gospel-centered mission work? What percentage is directed toward ministries that complement or supplement your church's areas of ministry need?
Too often churches give to Kingdom partners because that's what they have always done, yet this is not a wise practice in the Kingdom of God. Every year, ask your Kingdom partners where, exactly, the money is spent.
3) With what other groups do they partner?
Often, when churches support an outside group they do not do the diligence of investigating that group's other partnerships. When this happens, an unequal yoke can be formed between the local church and a group that does not share her core doctrinal beliefs.
If the Kingdom partner you are supporting is joined with a third party group that does not agree on the fundamentals, the Bible would ask, "What partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
As you evaluate your Kingdom partnerships, ask about their third party affiliates. With whom do they partner to do the work of ministry?
4) How does this partnership extend and enlarge our Great Commission footprint?
Your church has only one financial pie, and it can only be sliced in so many ways.
There are a number of good organizations worth supporting. The difficult question is: Which giving channels maximize our dollars for Kingdom impact?
The apostle Paul carefully evaluated the church's partners in the Gospel: "Indeed, we are giving careful thought to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before people ... as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:21-23).
Jesus has empowered, equipped and commissioned His local church to propagate the Gospel in her community and around the world. Every penny given must be maximized to this purpose and deserves careful discretion.
Choose a missional giving channel that best affords your church the privilege of seeing worldwide Gospel impact. Ask regularly how this Kingdom partnership is extending and enlarging the local church's Great Commission footprint.
I have the honor of working with thousands of churches in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention through the Cooperative Program -- Southern Baptists' channel of supporting missions and ministries in their states, in North America and throughout the world. I believe it is the most effective Great Commission funding and sending mechanism of our day.
The SBTC is a confessional fellowship of likeminded churches, grounded in the inerrancy of God's Word, maximizing the Kingdom impact of every dollar, holding hands with likeminded partners and working hard to extend and enlarge the Great Commission footprint of the churches we serve.
With what organizations does your church partner in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the corner and across the globe? Are you evaluating those partnerships regularly for doctrinal agreement, financial accountability, third party affiliates and Great Commission impact?