What’s the key to effective and powerful ministry? What, in other words, is the point?

Some people say that the key is prayer. “When we pray, God works,” the saying goes. Or how about this one: “Prayer moves the hand of God.” People talk about the power of prayer to change lives, and even the world.

Others say that fasting is the key. Not just prayer, but denying ourselves food or some other necessity to show God we mean business. I’ve read books by well known authors and ministers that claim that fasting alone unlocks the serious blessings of heaven so we can make a dent in this world, break free from strongholds, and push back the gates of hell. Booya!

Still others insist that the spoken word, or Rhema, is the key. Find out what God wants, then speak it out. Declare it by faith. Quote scriptures and insist on them, pounding the brass gates of heaven until God relents and does what he’s promised to do. Don’t settle for any less than your full inheritance in Christ.

Still others claim that compassion and social justice are the key. Actually getting our hands dirty and making a real difference in the lives of people. “Stop praying and get busy,” these folks say. “Get down off your ivory tower and meet needs in Jesus’ name.”

And then there’s the spiritual warfare key people, who insist that nothing gets done until the powers of darkness are ferreted out, resisted, bound, and silenced in Jesus’ name.

Another key might be worship. You gotta bring down the house with fervent worship until God touches down like a tornado and moves in power.

You know what? They’ve all missed the point. And the key.

The key to effective ministry is simple, actually—it’s partnership with God. That’s it: Faith becoming love in partnership with God.

The point isn’t, “Have we covered this in prayer?” It’s not corporate repentance, fervent worship, spiritual warfare, or anything else. The point, people, is that God invites us into partnership with him and that when we join him, stuff happens.

Our God calls us to join him in a million ways, and usually on a pathway that plays out differently than it did the last time. So this time, he calls us to join him by praying fervently. The next time, we’re called to bring a pie next door. The next time, we speak a prophetic word. The next time, we confront a demon. The next time, we quote scripture. The next time… aw, you get the picture. God’s people only walked around a city once. Only cracked clay jar torches open once. Only stopped the sun once. Only had a guy on a hill holding his arms up during the battle once. Only knocked a giant down with a big rock once. Only blinded a guy on a road once. See?

This isn’t a system or a technique, it’s a relationship. God loves us and wants us to join him in his work.