Collaborate

collaborate

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.  Mark 6:7

 I was reminded of this topic at a recent MentorLink board meeting. It is one of the five core values that we emphasize to leaders. Two are better than one. This post will explore the benefits of collaboration in three different contexts, including how it will help connect with the next generation.

When the recession of 2008 hit, our ministry suffered a significant drop in financial support, as did most other ministries and charities. We had to retrench and pare down our budget to the bare minimum after 8 years of existence.

In hindsight, it may have been the best thing that happened to us, difficult though it was. The ministry exploded exponentially.  One would think was the last thing that would happen.

Conventional wisdom tells you that your ministry “output” should be in direct proportion to financial “input”. While that may be true in many cases, it was not true for MentorLInk.

Why did we succeed where others failed?   Very simple:  we collaborated with other ministries,. We formed partnerships with NGO’s, denominations and churches around the globe, none of whom were relying on our financial support. Collaborating and partnering is one of our core beliefs. It’s the way Jesus and the disciples spread the gospel.

Our partners embraced our emphasis on character over content, and influence over control. We were the catalyst, and our partners took our tools and ran with ball. They went to places we could not gain entrance, and their ongoing ministry was not impacted by a recession on another continent.

The second anecdote of the benefits of collaborating comes from one of my engineering friends. He tells of his experience of collaborating while in the Air Force years ago. He assembled a team of 4 to 5 people to work on projects – often inter-disciplinary and consisting of people with different backgrounds and specialties.

He said that the small group of collaborators was the most effective model for innovation.  They accomplished some amazing things – some of which are just now being “declassified” by the government after 40 years.

Which makes me turn to the next generation. Collaboration has a particularly important role for the next generation. They learn best by collaboration, and studies show that it is one of the most effective means of learning.

Schools and colleges are now adopting a “flipped classroom” model where the teacher becomes a facilitator rather than a lecturer.

A study by IdeaPaint discovered that 74% of millennials prefer to collaborate in small groups. I rest my case.  The workplace is already adapting to developing teamwork and collaborative models. The church, however, has lagged behind these developments. It’s time to catch up.

At our board meeting last weekend, one of our group believes strongly that the church needs to focus on millennial leadership.  He has found that millennials are relational believers first and church goers last. They often “hate” the organized church, and often eschew it for meetings off-campus to interact with each other.

His observations are consistent with my own observations. The youngest millennial is now around 23.  They comprise the largest demographic component in the United States (78 million). That’s true elsewhere:  in Africa, the median age of their population is only 19.

Nonetheless, I don’t see the church embracing the next generation into its leadership models, or even being strategic in trying to reach them.  One suggested answer: develop models of ministry where collaboration and participation are the norm. That means the pastor or leader becomes a facilitator, , not a teacher or lecturer in the classic sense.

Long sermons are still the norm, but the average millennial will check out within minutes. It’s not that they aren’t interested;  it’s the wrong learning model for them. With an attention span  of only 8 seconds, one can’t expect them to suffer through a 20-30-minute sermon or lecture.

The bible is clear in its mandate to “pass it on to the next generation”.  Today’s next generation is unique because they are digital natives, and we need to learn to communicate with them differently. Developing models of teaching and leading that permits them to actively engage and participate is one method to explore.

Collaboration worked for Jesus. It worked for MentorLink and my engineering friend, and it can work for the next generation.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   The digital world is here to stay.  Mentors should be embracing collaboration as a way to communicate with the next generation in a new and creative way.

FURTHER READINGUnderstanding the Millennial Mindset of Collaboration– a good primer.

What Can We Learn from the “Collaboration Generation”– Prysm.com

The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future is Almost HereThese 3 Things Are About to Change Big Time  — Inc.com

WORSHIP: Listen to Yes I Will by Vertical Worship

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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