By: Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy, President

I’ve always found it interesting that the word collaboration has two very contradictory meanings. On the one hand, it can mean working with another to produce or create something. On the other hand, it can refer to traitorous activity with an enemy. In other words, Wilbur and Orville Wright were collaborators when they pioneered aviation, but so were WWII Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. or Britain who stole secrets or sabotaged ships in support of their nation’s enemy.

Sometimes I see both forms of collaboration at work in the church. I see the traitorous kind in our easy compromise with truth and ethics. I see the enemy smile with our failure to speak up against evil and our slowness to overcome evil with good. I see us as collaborators with the dark side when we sleep on our watch, letting those we know and maybe even love go down the slippery slope to hell without saying a word to them about Jesus. At times we play right into the devil’s hands with our institutional pride and traditionalism and our run for “the higher seats” at the banquet of the faithful.

Overwhelmingly, though, collaboration is the friend of the church. The nature of our Triune God testifies to the beauty and power of collaboration as each Person – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – contributes to the creative and redeeming power of one God. Think of Paul and Barnabas or Luther and Melanchthon. Consider our dual or triple parishes managing to share a pastor and a mission. Think of the LCMS with its 6,200+ congregations “walking together” (that’s what synod means) in a common confession and witness. Consider circuit mission projects. Think of the LWML and Lutheran Hour Ministries bringing people together for the sake of the church’s global mission. Or how about those churches which form a school association so that kids can have a Christ-centered education. This kind of collaboration throws dust in the devil’s face and thwarts his plans to undermine the kingdom.

Our Minnesota South District is at its best when we assist workers and congregations in collaborative efforts. I think of our Koinonia Project 2.0 last spring when over 200 of us developed A Statement of Concord based on Luther’s Small Catechism. Resource theologians and teams of pastors, commissioned workers, and lay people met in six different locations. Together we did theology and discovered both the breadth of our agreement and the ongoing need for conversation where we disagree.

This fall we’ll see two strong opportunities for collaboration in our district. We will involve more and more congregations in our To All Generations (TAG) Appeal. TAG will raise funds for grants to congregations and schools in support of innovative and collaborative efforts in Christian education. Every dollar raised will be put back into our churches and schools as we enhance our identity as a teaching church. Some things we can do better together than alone.

The other opportunity will be our district-wide MobilePack for Feed My Starving Children November 9-11. Youth groups, small groups, confirmation classes, and busloads of packers will converge on four locations to pack 750,000 meals for God’s starving kids across the world. God-willing, as packers raise sponsorships and funds, we also hope to raise $165,000 for FMSC. We hope for 3,750 volunteers. Some things we can do better together than alone.

I like how Halford Luccock put it: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”