Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
Today’ we begin the book of Philippians. Paul is writing to the church he helped to start in the Roman Colony of Philippi. Philippi in many regards is a retirement Colony. Men who served in the Roman military would often get property in or near the town. They are very up on how the Roman world functions. When Paul writes to them he is on house where he access to the Imperial Guard (Caesar’s version of the CIA). While the verdict is still out, this is more than likely the house arrest he served waiting trial before Caesar.
Paul begins the letter in today’s reading (Philippians 1) by sharing with them how much he longs to be with them. He sees the church at Philippi as his partners in ministry of the gospel. The idea of a partnership in ministry was new to me until I entered ministry.
In the church I grew up in we did not do much with other churches. When I was young our church was smaller, and we would from time to time go and worship with East Forty. But as we grew, our connections with other churches began to decrees. It was not until college, and until I started working in ministry that I truly saw what Paul cherished.
What I saw in NC was the churches worshiping together. What I saw in NC was the churches joining forces to minister to their congregations. But you know, what I still did not see in NC was the churches joining together to partner in ministry. They met together to fellowship and worship, but not much advancement of the gospel was taking place. When I moved to Virginia basically the same thing took place. The churches got together to worship together, fellowship together, but there was no coalition to advance the gospel.
Now I know our churches do work together in many ways. We support many of the same missionaries; we come together for fellowship and from time to time join forces on a single project. But what if we were to practice what Paul cherished? What would our world look like if the churches in our area, Southwest Ohio, came together on a regular basis to advance the gospel? What would that partnership of ministry look like?
I think this is something I am going to bring up at our next Ministers Breakfast. I want to look at ways we can partner together to advance the gospel. While fellowship and worship with our sister churches is great, what are we doing to advance the partnership of ministry? What can we do to bring to the gospel to the world in a more powerful way than each of us can by ourselves?