Synergy:syn-er-ji//noun: cooperation of two or more people or things to produce a combined effect that is greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Once upon a time, there was a youth pastor, Arty Williams, who ran a Summer Camp. His church’s insurance required him to have at least 1 adult to 8 kids for his program, yet only his girlfriend and roommate ran the youth group. When asked where he was going to find the other staff, his answer was the same, “I don’t want to trust in my own strength. God will bring the staff.”
On the morning of the camp, his senior pastor met Arty in the parking lot to only find his girlfriend and his roommate as adults on the bus. Sadly, the camp was cancelled. When Arty met with the elder board, he informed them he never made any calls, never visited any of the Bible studies of the church, or even invited any of the parents to the camp.
An older gentleman summed up the board’s feelings concerning Arty, “I know you didn’t want to use your strength but God’s, yet I think it’s okay, every once in a while, to break a little sweat for the kingdom.”
This describes on extreme view on God’s Mission: He’ll do it all, we just have to sit back and watch.
The other extreme is that the goal of following God is to make everyone go to church, whatever it takes, and make them into people just like yourself. The one who makes the most Christians is the best at following God and the church with the most converts…wins.
On this extreme, it is the brow beating and hyperactivity that makes people into Christians and saves the world. God can help out, so long as he sticks to the plan.
Either extreme shall make one nuts. Either side, you’re all alone.
No, God works in community and in relationship.
“It is surely a fact of inexhaustible significance that what the Lord left behind Him was not a book, nor a creed, nor a system of thought, nor a rule of life, but a visible community,” writer Lesslie Newbegin asserts.
If what God left behind was a community to change the world, then why do we either think we have to make it happen or stay in isolation, a lonely despair waiting for “God to do something…anything.”
The solution is that God is already at work and wants us to walk alongside Him, to cooperate and participate. To share in the invitation of following Christ…with Christ.
Karen Wilk wrote an amazing devotional called “Don’t Invite Them to Church”. “The disciples experienced the power of with. I think that’s what loving our neighbors is all about…The risen Lord showed up, not in the temples, but in cemeteries, on beaches, at home gatherings, and on the road. He ate a lot of fish and bread. Sometimes I wonder if the church has made everything too complicated. What if we all just did what Jesus did: walked alongside, listened, empathized, told the story, broke bread?”
He is the God who shows up with those who follow Him and is there before they come. It is a blessed synergy: God’s activity and our partnership.
The presence of God is found with those who follow Him, not in data, celebrities, digitally recorded sermons, books, exclusively in church buildings, or products. When people cooperate with Christ, the glory of their witness shines.
Kind of like John 17: 20-23, “I pray not only for these but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.”