The word collaboration means different things to different organizations. Having worked to help churches and ministries collaborate for over a decade there are three things I believe are true.
That real collaboration is multiplicative not additional. For example, I’ve seen too many churches try to come together to serve some need or area of a community. Often the thing they are trying to accomplish (always a necessary service) is outside of their ministries’ areas of focus or calling. It becomes not a unifying center that draws ministries together, but another activity that has to be squeezed onto an already full plate of legitimate activities (all pertaining to their own area of calling). Thus, none of the organizations involved give their full energy or capability to it, and the results don’t match the effort- yet, alone multiply it.
Collaboration for the Body of Christ is different than any for any other human institution. In all human organizations, (businesses, not for profits, or social entities), there are two key elements as far as collaboration is concerned- Relational and Operational. Small entities may actually run only through relationships (think family business), but as soon as they begin to grow, they add the operational elements of process, policy and structure. Churches and ministries also have these two elements, but there is a third that is added- the Spiritual element. Every church or ministry wants to create results and run efficiently and effectively. But, they only want to do so if it is accomplishing the calling God has given them. Discerning between man’s desires and God’s plan is key. Understanding the integration and separation of these three elements can greatly aid ministries as they seek to collaborate with other entities. This is explained in greater detail in the Kingdom Collaboration Model. (LINK)
Collaboration always requires change. Churches and ministries often overlook this impact, as they tend to think more about adding capabilities than working to create different results. Different results require that churches or ministries do things differently- and doing things differently requires change.
Kingdom Collaboration is a term I use to describe both the mindset and application of the three elements involved, in a way that embraces change and results in multiplied impact.