The term “symphony” etymologically means “sound with” or “make sound together.” The idea of together here implies more than making sound at the same time, but in such a way as to be producing a better sound as a collection than as individual sounds. Is this is not achieved one gets “cacophony” (bad or ill or evil sound). In the case of cacophony, sounds are together but the resultant collection is worse than the individual parts.
The so-called “Prayer of St. Francis” (almost certainly not from the mouth or pen of St. Francis) has the entreaty, “Make me an instrument of Your peace.” But if you take the analogy of an instrument being a musical instrument, the concern is whether having a number of such instruments are positive (synergistic) or negative (chaotic).
In ministry, it is great when we all are seeking to do God’s work. But do we work together (symphonically) or against each other (cacophonically… if that is a real word). Therre are different ways to do things ministerially.
1. Organizational Unity. We all work together because we are all in the same hierarchy. If every minister/missionary served in the same hierarchy, there would certainly be greater unity and coordination. However, there would be a vision deficit. Limiting planning to a few would reduce vision, and such a reduction is unlikely to be overcome by the greater coordination.
2. Spiritual Unity. Paul talks about us have a spiritual unity. That is, we share one Lord, one Baptism, and are baptized of one Spirit into one body. That is a comforting thing. However, sometimes that’s where the unity stops. Each do their own things… sometimes even in opposition to each other. This can certainly result in counterproductive ministry. Some seem to justify this from the standpoint that competition is beneficial. This may (or may not) be true in economic systems, but I pretty sure this is not true in ministry. The idea that “we are all in this alone” leads to inefficiencies and groups working against each other.
3. Networking. Networking is where different groups share information and SOMETIMES work together on common things. This leads to greater coordination and a modest improvement of efficiency. Additionally, the openness to share information may lead to a reduction of competition. Still, in practice this is far from a symphony. More like a group sing-along.
4. Partnership. We work together as equal parties in specific areas, drawing the best from each other. This is better… but it has limitations. Partnerships are rather formal and limited.generally. If they were unlimited, then they would become organizational unities. This is not bad… just not always an option.
5. Collaboration. We all play our roles in achieving mutual goals. In this case,
What is best? It depends, I suppose. Even “spiritual unity” is good if people truly understand the implications before God of such unity. In the next post I will give a few examples from our side.