As scientist, entrepreneur and Polaroid co-founder, Edwin Land rightly stated, “Politeness is the poison of collaboration.”
As a person who leans heavily on collaboration in my everyday life, this is never more true than in Christian ministry circles. More still, the silence continues to grow between the western church and para-church as the unsaid offenses simmer beneath the surface and are rarely ever resolved.
As Churches throughout the country step into their Biblical role of leadership in proclaiming the Gospel and reaching their communities, the para-church fills a critical role in coming alongside the church, reaching segments of the population that the local church may never touch. These cultural touch points, whether found in homeless shelters, assisted living centers, the urban slums, or the local public school are fields of ministry wholly designed for the para-church to thrive.
Unfortunately, local churches have too often been abused by the para-church and engaged solely as a funding mechanism; likewise, the para-church has been seen as little more than a nuisance to be endured by the church. Both of these views are dysfunctional and both are wrong.
Leaders from both sectors need to clear the air of their differences with candor and high esteem for each other in order to drain the poison from the wound and enter into collaborative ministry partnerships. Only then will lasting change come to their communities.