We have invited Dallas Lange, Director of New Life Ministries here at Portland Rescue Mission to guest blog about a subject close to our heart – collaborative ministry in helping the homeless. Dallas writes about the importance of collaborative ministry as we serve those experiencing homelessness in Portland, Oregon.
Over its 70 years, Portland Rescue Mission has sought to create a culture that gives hope and restores life to those struggling with homelessness. Of course, individual people can give hope and restore life but there’s more power when a group of people, a culture, works together seamlessly and shares their gifts in service.
That is collaboration.
Collaboration: The action of working with someone to produce or create something.
The Bible is full of stories, examples and instructions about community, relationships and collaboration. In fact, there are 59 recorded “one another” statements in the Scriptures. The gospel story is all about restoring people relationally – first with God and then with other people.
Collaboration is essential to the Christian life. Collaboration is also essential to the workplace. Individuals are limited and may struggle to thrive in the workplace by trying to become well-rounded. In a team more resources become available, more opportunity exists, and God gets to work in and through more people.
That is collaborative ministry.
Collaborative ministry: Serving together in a way that invites more people to contribute to the ministry so that God can transform more lives.
Portland Rescue Mission seeks to give hope and restore life through a collaborative ministry environment where people are constantly coming together in Jesus’ name. This begins individually and then flows into teams and finally into the community.
Collaboration begins when individuals seek to intentionally partner in order to expand impact. Partnering is more than doubling up. Successful partnering is discovering one’s own exceptional abilities, recognizing weaknesses and understanding how someone else’s abilities complement their weaknesses and enhance their strengths.
In order to do this, Portland Rescue Mission uses CliftonStrengths, a tool specifically designed to give precise feedback as to how each person is uniquely talented for success. Understanding this lens of Strengths helps each person recognize the filters that they and their co-workers see the world through.
Identifying Strengths also keeps each person focused on what is right about themselves and those they work with, so they don’t lose sight of the value of different people coming together. People need one another, especially in the workplace.
Portland Rescue Mission believes that all staff are on the same team. Nevertheless, staff do come together for specific tasks. While these small teams may share a common task, individuals within the team must choose to make it collaborative.
Teams generally fall into three types: Dependent, Independent or Interdependent.
A dependent team is a collection of individuals who have their own roles and work under the close supervision of a manager. The dependent team often lacks the collaboration and freedom needed to adapt, innovate and grow.
Like a dependent team, the independent team is composed of individual members who have their own roes however team members work on their own tasks with only general direction from the manager. In the independent team, there are limited opportunities for team members to join forces, each using his or her own Strengths to compliment others’ Strengths.
Members of interdependent teams rely on each other to get work done. Their regular work style is to position team members so that each can do what he or she does best. They focus on each person’s Strengths and manage around his or her weaknesses. Interdependent teams know how other team members can best contribute and therefore act interdependently.
Since this collaborative mindset is the goal at Portland Rescue Mission, it impacts how people facing homelessness and addiction are served. Specifically, staff seek out opportunities to create peer-to-peer opportunities and interactions. These are moments where relational growth is highlighted so that an interdependent life can be accomplished. Just like staff, our guests and program participants served need healthy relationships, partners and collaborators in order to thrive.
Portland Rescue Mission recognizes that they are a part of a broader community of ministries, churches, businesses, supporters and resources in and beyond the city of Portland. Given this understanding, Portland Rescue Mission seeks to be radically inclusive of the body of Christ. Three words describe the mindset required to do this well:
People struggling with homelessness and addiction are best served when we help them live interdependently, able to find and maintain necessary relationships and resources for success.
Collaborative ministry supports this process.
We seek to work collaboratively by partnering well, inviting people into ministry and facilitating the movement and interaction of people in Jesus’ name.
Will you join our collaborative ministry to serve the hurting in our city?