Collaborators love to bring together people from various backgrounds and disciplines that would perhaps never interact with one another otherwise. This is often a tricky business to bring together people in a multidisciplinary way, because there is ego and turf and suspicion involved. But Collaborators know the value of widely divergent personalities working together to bring an idea or project to life. In the business world, this often looks like getting salespeople working with marketing people, getting research and development to communicate meaningfully with production. In the church, it might look like getting liturgical churches to work with informal churches, or apostles to work with teachers, prophets working with pastors and evangelists, understanding and honoring each other, playing to their respective strengths to build up the body instead of denigrating one another as less important. Maybe it looks like getting inner-city churches working with suburban churches. If it takes a village to raise a child, maybe it takes the whole body of Christ to change the world.
A couple examples of how this can work:
A few years ago, the staff at Heartland took personality tests in order to better understand one another. The change was remarkable. It was as if we looked at one another and realized, "You’re not being difficult, you’re just different!" Light bulbs turned on, fireworks were shot off, angels sang. Just kidding, but it did help us learn to appreciate and honor one another, and help one another play to our respective strengths, instead of assume we all had to be alike.
Awhile back we let a predominantly black church use one of our rooms every Sunday morning for a couple years while they were looking for a new building. There was some tension the first few weeks, because the cultures were so vastly different. They would show up DRESSED UP and see our people sporting shorts, nose rings, and tatoos and wonder if we were even Christians. And of course some of our people had similar suspicions about them, with their VERY energetic, participatory worship services that often lasted well into the afternoon. Eventually we figured out that we were just different, and we’ve developed some lasting friendships and partnerships from the experiment.
Kelley calls this kind of thing "Collaboration through Cohabitation". If you just live with someone else for awhile, you start to understand what makes them tick, and you often find that they have a perspective that can help to spur creativity and innovation.
Relay races are won and lost in the baton exhange, and often the key to driving innovation in churches is in the fragile connection between people who need to lay aside ego and turf in order to work together. Collaborators excel at making and sustaining those connections. They’re like catalysts that cause different chemicals to interact with one another, starting a chain reaction. They’re like great point guards who can maximize the varying talents on a basketball team, getting them to work together to win games. Every team needs one on the floor to be effective, and every church needs a Collaborator "on the floor" to help drive innovation and effectiveness.