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 Dave Hackett’s article: Essential Foundations of Partnering Initiatives
If we are indeed to prioritize the nurture of collaborative partnerships to Christian witness more globally, then it is imperative that we understand the nature and history of partnerships initiated by the western church in the world.
Rarely have ministry partnerships been just or equitable; the initiating party normally retaining the lion’s share of power, charting the course and determining how and when goals are met. In order to create a more holistic and mutually beneficial partnership, perhaps it would be in our best interest to understand that for many cultures, partnerships cannot begin until a relationship has been initiated and nurtured.
Too many times we have excitedly run with an idea, tagged another entity with which we believe would enhance or strengthen our missional goal, and then wondered why the project stalled soon after. For many, reaching out to foment a relationship first is the beginning of creating a trusting and sustainable partnership.
Once a relationship has been established, then the conversation of partnership takes on a different life. The challenge of power sharing – so common in many missional partnerships – is welcome and the ability to embrace mutuality on all levels attainable. Because we are in relationship, we can share. We share – we listen to one another, pool our resources, and seek what will encourage all involved.
Collaborative partnerships strengthen our ministries and bring a depth we would otherwise miss, but it needs to happen in a way that affirms both partner entities and empowers both visions.
For many non-western-northerners, an invitation to partner is a natural transition from a missional relationship. How can you invite me to partner with you if you do not know me? How can I trust you if I don’t know you?
Partnerships then can take on a sacramental framework. We come together and share our stories, break bread and give thanks for one other and the God that has brought us together. From this experience, we gain the courage, trust and insight to move forward together.
The collaborative partnership may have an end date as goals are met, but the deep relationship formed will be the very fingerprints of a relational God, one who invites us, though many, to be the body of Christ and individually, members of one another. (Romans 12:5) And perhaps that, in and of itself, is part of the mission.
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