Paul expected every church to participate
fully with him.
Partnership is one of the richest words in the New Testament. It is the
significant Greek word koinonia. This word carries the truth of the
fullest expression of love--a love that gives and releases everything to
another. It is translated partnership, fellowship or
participation. This multiple use of the word koinonia is seen
in Philippians 1:3-5, where Paul writes to his favorite supporting church by
saying, I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all
of you, I always pray with joy because of yourpartnership(NIV), orfellowship(NKJV), orparticipation(NASB), in the gospel.
Paul expected every church to participate fully with him. Throughout his
letters to the churches he is constantly affirming their personal and corporate
involvement with him in his ministry. This is clearly seen as he encourages the
Ephesian believers to pray saying, With all prayer and petition pray at all
times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all
perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that
utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with
boldness the mystery of the gospel ... that in proclaiming it I may speak
boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:18-20, NASB). To Paul, evangelism
and church planting were a partnership. All the believers and
the churches were to join together in expressing their love to God, to one
another and to a lost world.
It is significant that Acts 2:42 uses this word koinonia: devoting
themselves to the apostles' teaching and tofellowship(NASB). We can truly say they
devoted themselves to partnership with each other. Everything
in the book of Acts that follows gives clear witness to this. When needs arose,
they were willing to sell their homes, placing the money at the apostles' feet
for ready distribution (Acts 2:44-45, 4:34-37). When their members were being
persecuted, they united together to pray, and the Holy Spirit filled them all,
and all of them together were bold in their witnessing (Acts 4:1-33). When
there was a doctrinal issue to be resolved, the entire church in Jerusalem came
together to pray and the Holy Spirit guided them. Then they sent letters of
their decision to the rest of the churches. This was
koinonia--partnership (Acts 15:1-37). Paul also did
not hesitate to request, and gather, love offerings for the poor believers who
were suffering in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
Partnership is the essence of the Christian faith for each believer and each
church. How should partnership work itself out in our lives and churches today?
There are several areas of life for which we need each other:
Family life. My wife led a group of women to pray every
week for their wayward children, and every child returned to the Lord.
Moral issues. Our communities and nation are in great need
of combined, earnest prayer and practical efforts to restore moral
Evangelism. Our churches could lead citywide crusades with
other churches and denominations, corporate witnessing by the congregations and
evangelizing together in schools, colleges, businesses and prisons.
Mission partnerships. We could witness together as
individual churches, but corporately with other churches, to Native Americans,
to the inner cities, in church planting efforts and through overseas mission
Just recently, I participated in a citywide discipling partnership with
churches of many different denominations. More than 1,000 people attended each
evening. All of the participating churches were strengthened.
Partnership is God's way of touching a broken world!
The author of Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby is special
assistant to the president, for Prayer and Spiritual Awakening, North American
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC