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Count the Churches
July 20, 2017

My family lives about 12 miles from the church that we attend – Edina Community Lutheran Church.  When my daughters were quite young and they were restless when driving to church, we would play a game that we called – Count the Churches.  It was amazing how many churches they would count on that 12 mile trip. 

Once when my daughters got a little older and  were annoyed by this 12 mile trip, they suggested that we should join one of these churches that was closer to our home.  So I had to justify why my wife and I felt that our church was the best place for our family to attend.  That seemed to be acceptable at the time for our daughters.

But when our daughters got into their teens they had a more critical observation.  They commented that if all these churches would just combine, they could really get something done – rather than each church trying to do it alone.

Sometimes the unfiltered advice of children is the most accurate and causes us to pause.

As people of faith we spend lots of our energy and time concerned about the needs of others.  Our faith compels us to do so.   However we mostly spend this time and energy in our singular silo – that silo is our individual congregation.

But big problems will not be solved without a big plan.  If we work frantically in our individual silos we will inevitably be frustrated and once again throw up our hands in frustration.  Instead, we need to get out of our silos and learn to collaborate.

66 West was accomplished because we tore down the walls of our silos and worked collaboratively with other congregations, we worked collaboratively with like minded citizens of the Southwest Metro area,we worked collaboratively with Beacon Interfaith Collaborative,  and we worked collaboratively with the State of Minnesota, Hennepin County and the city of Edina.

As people of faith, we must learn to enlarge our tents and work collaboratively with those who are like minded.   It is difficult, time consuming work – but it can happen when we Collaborate.

Mark Swiggum
Mark Swiggum is on the Board of Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. A retired educator, he is also a member of Edina Community Lutheran Church in Edina, MN.