One of the greatest aspects of this time of transition that anesthetizes the pain of closing Woodcreek Bible Church is the triumph of the missio Dei through cooperation with Gateway Fellowship of Royse City. Without this level of kindred mission, the process of closing a church would "feel" like failure. As it happens, analogies of transformation (i.e. caterpillars and butterflies) apply to an encouraging degree. This pleasing outcome is due in large part to a spirit of cooperation between Pastor Trent Brown and myself. Trent's cooperative attitude may be born of a passion for the effectiveness of the kingdom of God in this area. He could answer that question better concerning his motivation. Mine, however, was cultivated through previous exposure to the military and years spent teaching martial arts.
In the northwest, I worked for a martial arts school that had several locations at the time (3 in Seattle plus Spokane and Portland). The Calgary based company had most of their studios in Canadian cities. Working as an instructor for Temple Kung Fu Studios, I was often called upon to travel from one studio to another to fill a staffing gap or strengthen the teaching of a particular studio. Not only was this normal for me, but all studios were receptive to visiting instructors as well. Cooperation among studios was standard because of having a common master. The entire organization was under the leadership of Grand Master Olaf Simon. Because of the common master, all instructors in the Temple Kung Fu system saw each other as teammates. Even the three studios in Seattle knew they collectively were in competition with other schools, but not with each other. What made cooperation eclipse any thoughts of competition was the common master.
Those exposed to martial arts understand submission to the head master. However, Christians have a Master who alone can legitimately hold that title in every arena, not merely martial arts. As a result, believers should seek cooperative avenues out of a sense of submission to the Master. To compete with any of his other instructors is to run contrary to his mission of training as many people as possible for relating to him. Having now been the chief instructor for the "Fate studio," it is well within the Master's purgative to close the Fate studio and move many of those students to the Royse City studio. There they can continue their training uninterrupted, plus enjoy exposure to that chief instructor. What's more, I may have an opportunity to serve with the instructors as the Royse City studio as well. One Master - many studios. This is a standard strategy for the martial arts temple. It's also how I think of the Church.
For those that view the Church this way, the resulting effect is a triumph of cooperation over competition. We don't mourn the loss of a job as much because we trust that the Master will reassign us to a new studio. Nor do we mourn the closing of a studio as much because we know that a nearby studio will continue the training for our students. The cooperation between Trent and I has been pleasingly reminiscent of my days with Temple Kung Fu. Therefore, my main concern over Woodcreek Bible Church has been, "Did I train them well prior to us all being reassigned." It would seem that, through my reassignment to a new studio, the "Master" was not disappointed with the training his disciples received. Otherwise, it hardly seems likely that Jesus would burden Trent's studio with my presence as well. Cooperation has advanced the training for all, and it's a joy to watch unfold.