Kingdom Relationships of Trust – A response to Mark Avery

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 Mark Avery’s article: From the Inside Out: Developing Partnership Capacity of an Organisation

‘Partnership’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Koinonia’, ‘Community’ – what language can we use? Dr. Mark Avery illustrates this struggle as he moves from ‘partnership’ in his title to ‘collaboration’ in his first sub-heading and then immediately ‘partnership and collaboration’ in the next line. But this is more than just about language, it is about power, about dependency, about our ability to form and maintain healthy relationships, and our desire (or not) to enter an eschatological Kingdom in which ‘the other’ ceases to have meaning.

Working as an advocate for collaboration, I found Avery’s article both inspirational and very practical. In his rationale for collaboration I found myself longing for something a little more theological. The theology of the Trinity, especially in its more recent expressions, leaves us no room but to collaborate, to build koinonia, to discover what ‘community’ really means. We talk of the ‘missions community’ but rarely explore what that might mean theologically!

My experience in fostering collaboration between forty international mission agencies is that it all comes down, as Avery suggests, to people – people who learn to trust each other. I love his idea of a ‘go-between’ and was reminded that J V Taylor spoke of the Holy Spirit as the ‘Go-between God’ building relationships that flower into Kingdom community. When Avery goes on to talk about the nature of organizations I was somewhat surprised to find no mention of recent developments, within the secular sphere, of new egalitarian networked organizations (Ref. Brafman,O. & Beckstrom,R.A. The Starfish and the Spider) – but I fully appreciate his aspiration to “jump from conversions measured as outputs to the presence of God’s Kingdom in the world measured in outcomes” and the need to collaborate to get there. 

Mark Oxbrow is the International Director, Faith2Share.

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