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Partners? Why Not Friends?

Auteur: EddieArthur
Date: 27.05.2010
Category: Partenariat

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L'original est en anglais

Partner and partnership are ‘buzz’ words in the mission community at the moment. I’ve lost count of how many seminars and workshops that I’ve attended (or even led) on partnership issues. Now, don’t get me wrong; I believe that partnership is incredibly important. John 17:23 tells us that the unity of Christians bears strong witness to the fact that Jesus came in the flesh. In 1999, my own organisation, Wycliffe Bible Translators, adopted what we call Vision 2025:

“By 2025, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation programme begun in all the languages that need one”

To me, the important issue in this vision is not the date (which is out of our control entirely, anyway) but the commitment to partnership. It signals that as a family of organisation we had to make some wholesale changes in our approach and attitudes to working with others. This was not a one-off exercise, but is something which needs to be constantly reviewed and renewed.

Partnership is a good thing and we need more of it.

However, I find myself wondering whether partnership is the best way forward, especially when it comes to individuals working together. Certainly, the Bible has no trouble with the idea of c0-workers (the nearest concept I can find to partners), but I must admit that I much prefer Jesus description of us as his friends (John 15:14). I thought it might be interesting to explore some differences between partnership and friendship in the mission context.

The first thing I’d suggest is that mission partnerships exist for a purpose, whereas friendship is an end in itself. Partners meet to pray, to strategise and to do stuff: friends meet to be friends. It is true that friends may have a project or a hobby in common, but even if they didn’t they would still meet up just to be together. When partnership functions well, there is no problem. But there is an inherent danger that we will start to see the other partner as simply a means to get things done. We’ll value them less as a fellow human being and more as a way of achieving a goal. Friendship is never like that, friends always value each other as people.

Friendship implies a deeper commitment. Partners can hold each other at a distance, as long as the project moves forward. Friends continually draw closer. If you are a friend, you will want to learn the other person’s language, get to know their family and hear the latest news about their football team. Being a friend brings you into the other person’s community, being a partner may do that – but not always.

Friends learn the truth about one another. The people I work with see the best side of me; my friends see me warts and all. I’m not perfect when I’m at work, but generally, I manage to hide those aspects of my character which are best not let out in public. With my friends, my guard is down and they see the bits of me that the Lord is still dealing with. My friends know my worst side and they still care for me and they pray for me. There is no pressure to maintain an image with my friends. I wonder how many missionaries are good enough friends with the people they have come to serve, that they dare let the image slip for a while?

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Mots-clés: Partner, partnership, friendship

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PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Mariusbrand (0)
Afrique du Sud

Community farms: (Kibbutz)

4 land & wealth redistribution, to evangelise the community: To train, educate, work,  live and have a base from where to launch missionaries into the community. A community farm is where the Christians in the community corporately owns the property. Our corporate finances provide cost of the farm, infrastructure & accommodation for those working on farms.  Investors, invest directly in the crops to secure food and jobs for the people. Thousands of jobs will be created where people could be evangelise, reconciled, unity restored and worldviews changed to a Biblical one. Farms will act as a place of employment, a basic income, a missionary training School, an orphanage and launching pad to send trained missionaries. Here Christ Jesus will be a way of living where the community will see what we preach!

Three legs: (Operating separately)

 1.   Accommodation and employers Lodges/Hostels on farms with infrastructure:

2.   Education, “Skills” development, Discipleship training & orphanages.

3.   Agricultural projects – investment arm. (Project financing). Outside investors.

      Full scale business to create a holistic cosmos to the missionary to have the       infrastructure needed to live and operate in without lack or limitations.

 Shammah Foundation: Marius Brand: Cell 082 9210 275, e-mail - mariba@zsd.co.zawww.koevoet4christ.co.za


18.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Gilles (0)  
États-Unis

Partnership begins with friendship building, ideally. A group of people or agencies get to know each other. If they have shared vision, then they figure out how to work together as ministry "friends". Friends should know and respect one another. This builds trust and reliability. Friends have shared values and goals in what they are working to acheive together. There is transparancy, patience, and perserverence to see their mutual mission accomplished. They are willing to evaluate things honestly and make some hard decisions, at times. They share in the joy of acheiving things together. This, to me at least, describes what a "partnership" in mission work is these days. Also, gone are the days of the donor-recipient relationship. Donors (the Rms 12:8 giver) are now one of the friends at the partnership table, contributing according to their giftings, as the other "friends" do.


28.05.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas EddieArthur (0)  
Royaume-Uni

Hi italker. I’m intrigued that you seem to be implying that partnerships are all about the flow of funds in one direction and the flow of reports in the other. In my experience, there are lots of different types of partnership.

However, even in projects that involve funding and reporting, I don’t think I can agree with tyou that ’communication and reporting’ are at the heart of a healthy partnership. They are part of the picture, and probably the part that is most important to many Western agencies However, to most people around the world, the human relationships are far more important than the communication and reporting. This is at the root of much of the tension that can exist in projects, but of course the Western/donor culture wins out because they are the ones putting the money in. I talk about this a little in a comment on one of Krish K’s posts

I do, of course, agree with you that most partnerships involve more than two people or agencies.


28.05.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas italker (1)   
Royaume-Uni

I’m not sure about Eddie’s comment. I think it takes us down another road, and is opening up a completely different subject. I also think that most people know the difference between different kinds of partnerships ranging from business partnerships to domestic.

What we need to understand is that partnerships are best defined between the two parties. I have come to the conclusion through experience that it can be helpful to have the extent of the partnership defined in a document.

When it comes to talking about partnerships, most of the partnerships I’m familiar with are not simply between two groups of people or indeed two people. All these partnerships have a hinterland of friendships and various levels of supporters. How one partner behaves may have a good or bad effect on the other’s hinterland. This in turn may affect the principle ewlationship.

However one thing I know is essential be it in a friendship or a partnership -  there is a requirement on all concerned to be responsible.  Communication and reporting are at the heart of healthy rpartnerships. This means as Jon has said "exposing warts and all".

Many years ago i remember returning  a grant of £70,000 to a donor because I felt the project was not working properly and I explained to the donor why. We were the first people  this particular donor had come across to act this way.  Needless to say two years later we were recipients of a much larger grant of around £150,000 from the same donor. I guess what I’m saying is, call it what you will, partnership or friendship,  it makes no difference, as long as there is itransparency and integrity in all our communication and reporting.


28.05.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas EddieArthur (0)  
Royaume-Uni

Thanks for the comments, guys. They are helpful.

I just had a further thought on this issue. It may become difficult  for Brits to continue using the word ’partner’ purely on semantic grounds. The word is changing its meaning very quickly and its primary sense is now that of the ’person I live with in a committed relationship, without actually being married’. If this shift in meaning continues, it will be very difficult to use the word in the mission sense and still be understood.


27.05.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Gilles (0)  
États-Unis

This is helpful. You are addressing what we should call one another during this emerging global "partnership" time in mission history. Our Western language is commonly business, much to the chagrin other some others. Business concepts are not bad, per se, but the language may need to be translated into more understandable terms these days. I was talking with a missionary from Costa Rica the other day about what he thinks when he hears the world "partnership". He said it doesn’t communicate well, at least in his cultural context. He said simply "working together a friends" communicates the concept better.


27.05.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas argonaut (1)
États-Unis

Very insightful thoughts Eddie. Your distinction between friendship and partnership is one I’ve never thought of. I’m curious how the partnership coaches/consultants would respond.
It seems to me that in our all-too-frequent task-driven mentality in the Western world, we risk partnership becoming (as you point out) just another tool to get the job done.

Can true partnership exist without friendship? I suppose it can, but is it reflective of the Father’s heart? I’m not sure.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


27.05.2010

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