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Partnership From the Perspective of Younger Leaders

Author: Kärin Butler Primuth
Date: 04.06.2012
Category: Partnership

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Originally Posted in English

I recently had a great opportunity to spend several days with young leaders from across the Middle East, each of whom is actively involved in ministry.  They came together to learn about partnership because they know that the dreams God has put on their hearts are far too big for just one ministry or organization to accomplish by itself.  When asked why they thought God’s people don’t work together in partnership, they made several pointed observations:

  • We focus on our differences instead of what we have in common
  • We don’t love each other
  • We don’t know how

While there are many different reasons these emerging leaders could have mentioned, I was struck by the simple truth of these particular comments. 

Fruitful and effective ministry partnerships are possible when we build on what we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences.  In discussions with these young leaders from the Middle East, I became even more aware of the complexity of the Church context in which they are seeking to shine as lights in a largely Islamic majority.  The denominational and theological differences within the broader Christian community in the region are tremendously complex.  Those differences combined with language, cultural, and historical differences can make the ideal of partnership seem nearly impossible.  When these young leaders were asked why they thought Jesus had specifically chosen to pray for the unity of His followers during His final hours, they replied:  “Because unity is the most important and it is also the most difficult”.

While each of us would likely agree that the idealized value of the Church is to work together in unity, the fact is that through the ages the functional reality of working together is indeed difficult!  Despite ever-improving technology which makes collaboration more possible today than ever before, our differences more often divide us than our common visions unite us.  Partnerships can develop where the commonly shared vision is so compelling that we are willing to set aside the differences that could keep us working separately and less effectively. 

These young leaders also mentioned that one reason we do not work together is because we don’t love each other.  Jesus’ command to love one another requires that we proactively demonstrate love to others in the body of Christ, even those with whom we have differences.  It is our love for Christ and His love in us that compels us to work together with people of different organizations, denominations, cultures and color.  When love is our aim, we will come to a partnership with an attitude of what I can contribute rather than what I can take or how I can manipulate the group into accomplishing my goals.  Any partnership is only worth investing in if it provides some benefit to each one of the partners.  But an attitude of love does not put me or my organization first. It puts others first so the common goals of the partnership can be accomplished.

Keywords: Lausanne, partnership, Karin Butler Primuth, collaboration, divided, wholeness

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Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Robfoster (1)
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Karen wrote, "Isn’t it in the context of getting to know one another and building a relationship that love has the opportunity to grow?  When we who were once strangers, who believed misconceptions about each other, are willing to come together and listen to one another’s stories and dreams, then the foundation of trust and respect can begin to develop."

Having learned this same principle through trial and error (mostly error) I have committed to the process of building relationship first, then letting ministry and partnership grow out of that relationship.   This has been a difficult concept to implement as many are used to moving into projects immediately, and the process of building relationship is slow, messy, and often results in a decision NOT to pursue any practical result.   We have to accept that there are no short-cuts, and must raise the value of building loving relationships so our fellow church leaders are willing to join us. 


10.06.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Billsun3 (0)
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@ Robfoster:

Rob’s observation is not unique.  Many choose not to pursue collaboration or partnership because a) they don’t see outcomes b) they have been burned in building trusting relatinships as they went to outcomes too soon.  Developing partnerships is a process that takes time


14.06.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Marv_Gibbs (0)
United States

As I read Karin’s article I was attracted to a couple of phrases.  The first point of her observations made by young leaders was, “We focus on our differences…”  This fact is true in almost every cultural
context I’ve experienced and wherever the Kingdom is growing the tendency is to debilitate the effort through creating a distinct ministry.  In some cases the issue is survival.  If a distinct ministry isn’t created, how will followers be attracted to this unique approach to Kingdom work?  Competition for human or financial resources,
bringing together a group to provide funding for leadership and a vision, may be the influence.  In some cases, new believers are taught to leave the world behind as followers of Christ.  That idea gets extended to create suspicion of anyone different from “our way.” 
Breaking the “differences barrier” and understanding why people are
focused on differences would seem to be a key to initiating a spirit of working together.  Differences should be respected.  However, a common shared vision is born as participants see beyond those differences and find a compelling reason for ministry together. 

The other phase was, “The surest way to kill a partnership is to call a meeting.”  Recognizing that working together is a process, if people don’t meet together in “meetings,” how can principles and defined processes be determined leading to effective cooperative Kingdom work?  A friend of mine often said, “We support what we help create.”  Review of the literature on collaboration indicates participation is a key element in successful joint ventures.  These points would seem to indicate getting together from the very beginning of a cooperative vision and begin “meeting” to strategize as a group is vital to the success of any effort directed toward mutually envisioned ministry.


13.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Marv_Gibbs (0)
United States

As I read Karin’s article I was attracted to a couple of phrases.  The first point of her observations made by young leaders was, “We focus on our differences…”  This fact is true in almost every cultural
context I’ve experienced and wherever the Kingdom is growing the tendency is to debilitate the effort through creating a distinct ministry.  In some cases the issue is survival.  If a distinct ministry isn’t created, how will followers be attracted to this unique approach to Kingdom work?  Competition for human or financial resources,
bringing together a group to provide funding for leadership and a vision, may be the influence.  In some cases, new believers are taught to leave the world behind as followers of Christ.  That idea gets extended to create suspicion of anyone different from “our way.” 
Breaking the “differences barrier” and understanding why people are
focused on differences would seem to be a key to initiating a spirit of working together.  Differences should be respected.  However, a common shared vision is born as participants see beyond those differences and find a compelling reason for ministry together. 

The other phase was, “The surest way to kill a partnership is to call a meeting.”  Recognizing that working together is a process, if people don’t meet together in “meetings,” how can principles and defined processes be determined leading to effective cooperative Kingdom work?  A friend of mine often said, “We support what we help create.”  Review of the literature on collaboration indicates participation is a key element in successful joint ventures.  These points would seem to indicate getting together from the very beginning of a cooperative vision and begin “meeting” to strategize as a group is vital to the success of any effort directed toward mutually envisioned ministry.


13.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Marv_Gibbs (0)
United States

As I read Karin’s article I was attracted to a couple of phrases.  The first point of her observations made by young leaders was, “We focus on our differences…”  This fact is true in almost every cultural
context I’ve experienced and wherever the Kingdom is growing the tendency is to debilitate the effort through creating a distinct ministry.  In some cases the issue is survival.  If a distinct ministry isn’t created, how will followers be attracted to this unique approach to Kingdom work?  Competition for human or financial resources,
bringing together a group to provide funding for leadership and a vision, may be the influence.  In some cases, new believers are taught to leave the world behind as followers of Christ.  That idea gets extended to create suspicion of anyone different from “our way.” 
Breaking the “differences barrier” and understanding why people are
focused on differences would seem to be a key to initiating a spirit of working together.  Differences should be respected.  However, a common shared vision is born as participants see beyond those differences and find a compelling reason for ministry together. 

The other phase was, “The surest way to kill a partnership is to call a meeting.”  Recognizing that working together is a process, if people don’t meet together in “meetings,” how can principles and defined processes be determined leading to effective cooperative Kingdom work?  A friend of mine often said, “We support what we help create.”  Review of the literature on collaboration indicates participation is a key element in successful joint ventures.  These points would seem to indicate getting together from the very beginning of a cooperative vision and begin “meeting” to strategize as a group is vital to the success of any effort directed toward mutually envisioned ministry.


13.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down phillipgonzales (0)
United States

Karen writes: Partnerships can develop where the commonly shared vision is so compelling that we are willing to set aside the differences that could keep us working separately and less effectively. 

What strikes me is how important it is to have a clear, compelling and consistent vision that unites different ministries under one concrete purpose.  I find that things like "Share the Gospel" or "Love the world" are great overall goals, but aren’t specific enough to get people inspired to work fowards a defined and achievable goal.  We want to see God do things that only He can accomplish, but it seems a missing piece is often a clear view of what those things might be :-)

Good stuff Karen!


08.06.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Billsun3 (0)
United States

What I enjoyed about Mrs. Primuth’s post is that as believers we often forget that it is the love of Jesus in us that enables us to overcome the distrust which emanates from our fallen cultures and systems.  The fallen ways of viewing the world infiltrate our thinking to such an extent  that we move forward without doing what God wants us to do.  Jesus has prayed to His Father that we would be in them so that the world would know that Jesus was sent by the Father.  As we live out, demonstrate and show this unity as expressed in love, the world will see who God is.  Isn’t this what you have experienced in your ministry and life?


04.06.2012

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