Often in the church and in business, various groups may be working side by side, yet not working cooperatively. Working cooperatively can produce mutual benefits between the various groups. What is needed in the church (and business) world is symbiosis. Symbiosis is another of the biotic principles working in nature providing continual growth and reproduction in all things living.

Symbiosis is defined as the interaction between two different organisms living in a close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

Two recent college graduates sharing an apartment as they enter the permanent workforce is a model of symbiosis. They are sharing the expenses of living on your own with mutual benefits of affordability.

Many churches have differing ministries expending energy in similar directions. When these ministries join forces sharing resources and energy, greater benefits will be realized by not only the different ministries involved but also the entire church or organization.

One area where symbiosis is identifiable in churches is the Sunday morning Bible study hour. A church that offers Bible study classes for all age groups at the same time is practicing symbiosis. It becomes mutually beneficial for families who participate as parents have a place to take their children without hiring outside help. Workers are already there as all members of their family are actively involved throughout the campus. Classroom, parking, and other needed space is all at the same location mutually benefiting the organization, families, and individuals.

Unfortunately, aside from Sunday mornings, symbiosis in the church is often strange and foreign. When ministry groups work without symbiosis to other ministry groups, silos are formed. Each one planning and doing its own thing without consideration of how they might share resources and energy from/with other groups within the church or organization. Silos in any organization eat up finances, time, people’s energy, and other resources with less effectiveness than groups working in symbiotic relationships.

Different ministries can cultivate cooperative relationships, so the mutual benefit is greater than operating separately. Symbiotic relationships between individuals and ministry organizations will always produce a greater, more effective Great Commission results.

How will you equip and encourage symbiosis throughout your church or organization?

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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