I will never forget the first time I went to a church in order to develop a partnership in reaching kids in middle school in their neighborhood. To say that the Pastor was a little suspicious of me was an understatement.

Sadly, I would be willing to bet I’m not the only one who has had this experience. From our side of the table partnering with churches and other like-minded collaborators is a no brainer. However, sometimes what we encounter when we meet with potential partners is reluctance, disinterest or fear.

So, how do we overcome these obstacles and develop kingdom partners so more kids are reached with the Gospel? Here are a few things that have worked for me:

Seek to learn, not tell
When you first visit the potential partner seek to learn about them and their ministry instead of immediately launching into how revolutionary and amazing Campus Life is. A statement like “Tell me about the student ministry of this church…” will ease the fear that you are just there to take their volunteers and money. Asking good questions will help you determine whether this would be a wise partnership.

Position yourself and Campus Life as a servant
Ask not what the church (or partner) can do for you, but what you can do for them. I must confess that I am sometimes guilty of only considering my needs as a CL director. When we remember that we desire to serve the Church, partnership takes on a new meaning. Establishing a partnership with a spirit of humility can significantly impact the other party’s willingness to invest.

Be ready to share a story of a particular student whose life has been changed
If you haven’t figured out that stories are woven into the fabric of who we are I’m not sure where you’ve been. Helping people understand what’s really at stake takes the focus off YOUR needs and places it on what YOUR STUDENTS need- namely the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel.

Partnerships can be messy and take time to develop but they are essential to reaching every student on your campus. More partners mean more relationships. More relationships mean more avenues for Jesus to change a kid’s heart.

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