By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Cooperation. Churches talk about it all the time. Churches actually practice cooperation when they participate through the Cooperative Program. But how often do churches truly practice cooperation by “cooperating” with each other? My guess is — not often enough.
The standard definition of cooperation is “the process of working together to the same end.”
In this week’s issue (see photos and story here) is an example of area churches working together to show the love of Jesus in their community.
Four Hardeman County churches (First Baptist, Bolivar; Parrans Chapel Baptist, Bolivar; Dixie Hills Baptist, Bolivar; and Hornsby Baptist, Hornsby) have worked together for six years now on a Youth Evangelism Project (YEP). They combine their youth groups for several days of community missions projects — ranging from Backyard Bible Clubs to washing cars to helping a neighboring church with some needed repairs to simply picking up trash on local roads.
The churches’ youth ministers intentionally pair up the youth with youth from other churches to actually let them get to know each other outside of the schools they attend. That’s where true cooperation is learned — working together with people you might now know as well as your regular church friends.
By all accounts, it’s working. After all, this is the sixth year the churches have done it together. If it wasn’t making a difference, I’m sure it would have ended long before now. And, their working together does not mean they don’t take other trips. Some of the churches go on their own missions trips as well, in addition to working with their sister churches in the community.
Working together enables youth who cannot afford an out-of-state trip to truly experience what it means to help others. As one youth leader put it, it’s a missions trip without the bus ride.
Cooperation among Baptists and other Christians should not be uncommon. It should be a way of life, especially among our Baptist churches. We are not in competition with each other, even if the church is within five miles of your own congregation. People are different. They have different needs. Our churches are unique, each equipped to meet certain needs and ministries.
If every church was the same, we’d have just one church with a lot of different campuses. That’s not the way it should be or needs to be. We do not need to regard our fellow Christians and sister churches as competitors as long as we’re preaching Jesus Christ and that the only way to heaven is through Him.
The church’s only competition is with Satan. The devil loves it when churches draw boundaries and fight among each other. When we bicker, his job is easier.
The four Hardeman County churches featured in this issue paint a beautiful picture of God’s people working together for one common purpose – to show His love to people who need it. May their tribe increase!