Relational partnerships are at the heart of everything we do at CSM, and through these, we can positively impact our city. We have spent time investing in these relationships to see God’s expression of love for his creation and people, and it has been worth it. The deep sense of care that it takes to listen and know what is on God’s heart and who He wants us to create these relationships with takes discernment and prayer. The scripture challenges us when it says we are God’s coworkers sent to do work here in this city to proclaim and demonstrate His love to the people that are on His heart. Churches often approach CSM with needs and come with requests to get stuff and give stuff. I tell them that we don’t have stuff to give; we have tools that have been given to build bridges into communities and into the lives of people in their communities. I hope that churches will use the resources that we receive to build relationships to impact lives. It takes time to build relationships and see how we can best work together. We have had hundreds of ministry partnerships built over the last 11 years, and the impact of each has varied. The lasting effect of these relationships must be movement toward gospel change and a community difference.

We build our relational partnerships around a shared vision of disciple-making and a longing to see growth occur in churches for a greater Kingdom impact. The word tells us to make disciples of all nations and people. During Covid restrictions, the church was challenged to figure out new ways to “make disciples,” leading to groups of pastors meeting regularly to address hardships.

For years I have met with pastors throughout the area to figure out how we can better reflect the Kingdom together. We have seen so much good come out of these meetings. Currently, one group is creating small groups from a cross-section of their people who will interact breaking down walls that have divided for too long. Another group has a unified vision of change and are equipping each other to walk strongly together. This past year has been a blessing because solid relationships are being built around purpose and Kingdom values. And, these relationships are leading to transparency and vulnerability in our church leaders.

Much of these partnerships have been built through prayer, which has empowered these pastors over the past months and year. Walking through this year in prayer together on our Zoom calls has become a source of hope and joy as we have connected the best and safest way we could while praying for a variety of new issues such as the effectiveness of ministries that have not been able to touch one another in so long, the hearts of those that have been isolated and alone and praying for each other as the decisions that have had to been made have oftentimes been overwhelming and weighty.

A central part of these relationships is prayer which has empowered these pastors in such a difficult season. And praying together on our Zoom calls has become a source of hope and joy. We have prayed for various issues such as the effectiveness of ministries that have not been able to meet in person for so long, the hearts of those that have been isolated, and for each other as decisions have often been overwhelming and weighty. Through this fellowship, many were strengthened and have been sources of encouragement, empowerment, and prayer for their congregations. I believe this work of building relational partnerships is a step towards seeing a more unified Church, and I am honored to be a part. These Kingdom relationships are important to build our lasting inheritance for where we will one day be together in glory for eternity.