By Megan Harrison, Missional Living & Early Childhood Pastor
On Sunday, August 21st, we’ll be having an Oak Hills Ministry Partner Fair. Similar to the one we had in February of last year, this will give Oak Hills the chance to learn more about the work our partners are doing around the world! Many of our partners are either Oak Hillians, or are deeply invested in the people of Oak Hills, and we are deeply invested in them. Before the 21st rolls around, I wanted the chance to explore why these relationships matter so much, and why I believe it’s so important for Oak Hills to get to know our partners better.
First of all, you may be wondering: What is a ministry partner? A ministry partner is someone working to build God’s kingdom outside the walls of Oak Hills, who we support either financially or through prayer and other resources. We have partners who lead evangelism mission trips, partners who serve in slums, partners who work with recently released wards from Juvenile Hall, partners who lead churches in other countries, and many more. All of our partners work to make a difference and proclaim the gospel both locally and globally.
So how does someone become a ministry partner? It looks different for most of our partners, but generally the potential partner approaches Oak Hills and asks for support. They are directed to me, and I meet with them and talk with them about their ministry. Two of the primary things we look at are whether their mission aligns with Oak Hills’ values and theology, and whether there are already established relationships between the partner and Oak Hills.
I want to focus in on this last piece—the relationships between a partner and the church—because it highlights just why this Ministry Partner Fair is so important. Our Ministry Partners are just that—partners. We work together, encourage one another, and support each other’s work. Our partners are invested in Oak Hills, just as we are invested in them. And we have found over and over again that just having one or two staff members interested in the partner’s ministry is not enough. We NEED the congregation. Our partners need the support of the WHOLE church. They need all our prayers, our encouragement, our thoughts and our support.
Ministry can be grueling at times, and every one of our partners has faced at least one season of feeling alone in their work. I have found that I cannot support each of our partners as I would like, because we have 20 Ministry Partners, and I am one person! The Ministry Partner Fair is the chance for all of us to come together, learn more about our partners, and encourage them in what they do. My hope is that each and every person who comes on Sunday the 21st, would be drawn to one of the ministries.
We need YOU, and what you have to offer relationally. Perhaps you could consider signing up for an email list, or offering to pray for a need, or just spending time asking one of our partners about their work. Each one of these things is immensely encouraging to our partners! And as the Body of Christ, I believe we are called to encourage one another in the work Christ has set before us. You never know: in your efforts to encourage one of our partners, you may be surprised to find yourself encouraged as well!