On Paul’s second missionary journey he visited Philippi. His connection with the city became one of those mission trip experiences that a person never forgets.
There he met Lydia, “a worshiper of God.” When she heard the gospel, she believed and was baptized. Lydia and her family were the first Christian converts in Europe.
By the grace of God they became the nucleus of that continent’s first church and a partner with Paul in the gospel.
They were not the only reason Paul had such a strong connection with the church at Philippi. There were many in the city whose eternal destiny had been changed by Christian conversion. Without question, the Philippian church held a treasured spot in Paul’s heart.
Those special relationships prompted Paul to write, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” What a tender comment! He continued, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” Philippians 1:3-5 (NIV).
Paul treasured the partnership he had with the believers in Philippi.
The Greek word he used for “partnership” is the word koinonia. It is the unique word used to describe fellowship, partnership, association or community.
The first time the word is used in scripture is in this often-quoted text in Acts, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers,” (Acts 2:42 NKJ).
The same basic principle was recorded in the Old Testament, “Two are better than one…,” (Eccl. 4:9a).
There is an unbelievable power in partnership that goes beyond emotions. It makes our work exponentially more productive. Mathematically, it moves the advance of the gospel from addition to multiplication.
Fast food restaurants like Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A know this principle well. One outlet can sell a lot of food.
But when they open other outlets and partner with them, the name brand broadens and the sales go up.
As I work among North Carolina Baptists, I believe I experience the same spiritual connection Paul felt. Our partnership in the gospel is treasured and unique. We have the privilege of impacting eternity together in ways we could never do alone.
I am blessed to visit many churches and associations across the state.
The “partnership in the gospel” or koinonia I experience in these gatherings is powerful. In recent weeks, my experience with Gerald Morris, director of missions, at the Tuckaseigee Baptist Association’s annual meeting showed me some powerful ministry God is doing in western N.C.
Another visit with the Metrolina Baptist Association’s meeting reminded me of the effective ministry happening in the Charlotte area under Bob Lowman’s leadership. I am filled with joy because of these partnerships!
I preached recently in pulpits at Mount Pleasant Baptist, State Road; Alexis Baptist, Alexis; Pole Creek Baptist, Candler; and Oakwoods Baptist, Wilkesboro.
Being in these local churches gives me a snapshot of the exciting work of the Holy Spirit in the local church, which is “ground zero” of kingdom work.
It also reminds me that N.C. Baptists are applying the principle, “Two is better than one.” We have many “outlets” for the gospel across the state and around the world. Each one is a partnership ministry as we join together for the proclamation of the gospel.
Each brings exponential benefit to the ultimate mission.
Expanding this principle, local churches and associations unite to support the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, North Carolina Baptist Men, North American missions, International missions and many more kingdom ministries. What a partnership!
Unlike the fast food industry, our end result is not simply feeding people for the moment, but giving them food for eternity. We do not exist to make another dollar, but to bring glory to God.
He gets glory out of our partnership. Our joyful koinonia brings honor to His name.
As North Carolina Baptists focus on a fresh awakening at this year’s annual meeting in Greensboro, I pray that we will capture a greater vision of the power of working together in the partnership of the gospel.