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Summary: Cooperation in ministry is vital. Here are the marks of a cooperating church

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July 22, 2001

Doing the work of ministry is like eating an elephant¡Kyou take one bite at a time! The reason is obvious¡Kthe hide of an elephant, is thick, tough, and the elephant doesn¡¦t let go of it without a fuss!

In the same way, ministry can be an uphill struggle:

„Ñ People get saved one soul at a time.

„Ñ Families get helped one hand at a time.

„Ñ Lives are touched and changed one on one ¡V one at a time!

There are variables ¡V things that change in ministry. One thing that is not, however is time. Time is not variable ¡V we all have seven 24-hour days in each week.

When it comes to the number of lives touched, people helped, it is the variables that make the difference. What are the variables? Some, over which we have no measure of control, are:

„Ñ Opportunity ¡V The Father is the One who sends windows of opportunity.

„Ñ Gifts ¡V It is the Spirit of God who gives spiritual gifts to persons for the ministry.

Some other variables, which we can control or influence, are:

„Ñ Effort ¡V Often the reason we accomplish little is connected to our willingness to try.

„Ñ Cooperation ¡V There is much a person like Billy Graham can do, but it would be nothing, compared to what 125 believers working in cooperation can accomplish.

„Ñ Unity ¡V When there is mutual respect for persons, and the importance of each individual in the body of Christ, there is that blessed unity of spirit in which wonderful, awesome, miraculous things happen. Often it is difficult to describe unity, but you always know it when you see it.

Effort, cooperation and unity ¡V the variables which believers in Christ must conquer to do this eating the elephant ¡V this huge, undefined, unfinished piece of work Jesus said we must do ¡V and the way James said we should do it; let¡¦s look at ministry, one bite at a time¡Ksee

THE MARKS OF UNIFIED, COOPERATIVE EFFORT IN THE LIFE OF A LOCAL CHURCH LIKE OURS¡K

It¡¦s a Praying Church

13Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. James 5.13a

Praying is a matter of continually asking for guidance and wisdom about dealing with the adversities life doles-out. Wise leaders know, as do wise followers, that when the enemy draws near it is time to circle the wagons for maximum effectiveness.

J.D. Grey was the longtime pastor at First Baptist Church, New Orleans. Dr. Grey was being honored during a 1982 chapel service at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Dr. Landrum Leavell introduced Dr. Grey, and told about his West Texas roots. In his message on church cooperation, Grey told us young, eager-to-learn preachers:

Boys, out on the range we could always tell ¡V even from a great distance ¡V whether they was [sic] horses or jackasses out there. When the coyotes or other predators threatened, them horses gather in a circle with their heads on the inside, ready to kick at any attackers on the outside.

Them jackasses were some different. If they was attacked, the circle was heads-out & tails-in, kickin¡¦ the daylights outa each other on the inside! Boys, it ain¡¦t much different in the church. If ya got jackasses they¡¦ll kick the stuffin¡¦ outa each other. Better to go pray with the horses when the coyotes gather!

A praying church will find a way. It is done with whole-heartedness. James said those suffering should keep on praying. In bygone days it was called praying through. That means to persevere ¡V don¡¦t give up ¡V find God¡¦s hand in whatever is happening and trace it all the way to His heart.

Sometimes that takes great cooperation and creativity in a praying church. The attacks and difficulties of life can wear you down.

A farmer came into the barn at the end of the day too pooped to move. It was time to milk Gertrude. As he plunked the milk bucket down and flopped on the stool, Gertrude looked at him with compassion.

Hard day? asked the cow. Oh, man, said the farmer, the worst ¡V I¡¦m worn, slap-out; Don¡¦t know if I have the strength to milk you, ol¡¦ girl.

Tell you what, replied Gertrude, You need the milk, and I sure need to get rid of it. You just reach out and hang on ¡V I¡¦ll jump up an¡¦ down for a while, and we¡¦ll get the job done!

A praying church has the kind of unity, cooperation and effort that sometimes colors outside the lines. But they find a way to do what God reveals in prayer.

It¡¦s a Celebrating Church

And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord. James 5.13b

God¡¦s people have always been known as a singing people. There are so many references in Scripture that teach us to sing unto the Lord, and praise the Lord. We could spend the next two days just covering them. Just listen to a few:

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