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Partnership: A Spiritual Battle - A Response from Scott White

Author: Scott White
Date: 04.06.2012
Category: Partnership

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To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.

A response to Kärin Butler Primuth’s article:  "Partnership From the Perspective of Younger Leaders"

The observations of these young Middle Eastern leaders about why partnership is rarely pursued stuck me as not geographically specific, but in fact as suprageo-graphical.   What Karin Primuth observes in her article about facing differences, lack of love for co-laborers and lack of partnering knowledge generally, speak to a reality that many of us who seek to practice partnership underestimate in our calculus; we remain marred by sin.  And this sin wars against relationships of all kinds including partnership. If we fail to remember this foundational fact, core to our Christian orthodoxy, than real potential for partnership orthopraxy will be severely diminished and self-limiting, in part because of the spiritual oversight or diminishment of sins role and effects.

Primuth observes a number of ways to address these leader’s observations, drawn from visionSynergy’s years of leadership in this area including intentionality of vision, nurturing of networks and learning from best practices.  My own experience in partnership formation, development and action affirms these things.  In short, partnership is a progression and not an event.   When we choose event-orientation for partnering in ministry, instead of a relationally-invested model, which inevitably will also include event-orientation as a subset, than we have likely sown the seeds for a poor harvest. 

Thus we return to my initial response to this article; if we forget this is a spiritual battle - hence I believe therefore the profound focus on unity in Jesus’s prayer in John 17 - than we appeal to our own sense of self-import, fall victim to inflated opinions of our organization’s role and subsequently, the criticality of “our” plan being in place in order for the missio dei to succeed.  And these are not geo-graphically specific issues, nor ethnographically specific issues or even denominationally specific issues, these are existential issues related to the condition of our still-to-be fully-redeemed souls. 

A Middle East leader of another generation, John the Baptizer, seemed to have understood some of these limitations and inherent conflicted motivations amongst his co-ministers. He firmly yet simply stated to those he was partnered with in ministry, “He (Jesus) must increase and I (John) must decrease. (JN 3.30).  In this succinct statement we can see John addressing the concerns of his prophetic and pastoral progeny in today’s young Middle Eastern Leader’s observations; in order to pursue true and effective partnership we must practice loving submission to one another, pursue sacrificial love even as it means positional authority and leadership shifts, and acknowledge, that in Christ alone, we find the ultimate authority and the ultimate model.

Keywords: Lausanne, partnership, Scott White, spiritual battle, submission, sacrificial love, relationship

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