PART TWO: 7 Guidelines for Partnership – Supporting a National or Indigenous Ministry

July 5, 2013


see Part ONE

Determine Who Provides Care and Accountability for the Leader

No leader should be a lone ranger. Before building a partnership, determine who is around the leader that holds him or her accountable. It might be a group of local colleagues, a board, foreign missionaries or a government council. If it doesn’t exist, you need to require that it comes into existence.

Be careful about how you navigate the necessity for accountability and care. It needs to happen in a culturally appropriate fashion. If it doesn’t exist or can’t be developed, you’ll either need to be totally hands on with this partner or seek another direction.

Find Help From Someone to Establish and Maintain Your Partner’s Credibility

This is the one area most Americans who give trust too easily will overlook. If you are a business person getting ready to do a big deal, wouldn’t you try to establish the credibility of your potential partner? It’s the same thing in missions. Why wouldn’t you take the same measure with someone ten thousand miles away? Because it’s hard work – and you might not be willing to engage at that level. You’d rather throw money at the ministry and forget about it. That’s bad business and its bad mission.

“I’m trusting God,” you might respond. Good – trust God – and do it God’s way by creating community, seeking transparency and showing your partner that you are wise. You need others who know more than you to help you establish your partner’s credibility.

You need the assistance of those who know the culture and the lay of the land – missionaries and mission agencies, or international business people, who can keep you informed of your partner’s status. If you think you can go it alone, you’ll find a mess on your hands one day. If you seek to build honesty and genuine partnership, God will bless your efforts.

Create a Covenant of Partnership But Don’t Sign It – Shake on It

It’s important to come up with a written agreement or covenant for your partnership so both parties know what was agreed upon. But don’t sign it. Shake on it. Better yet, research how agreements are made in the other culture and follow those terms, as long as those terms don’t contradict your own cultural norms. You may need to negotiate this carefully.

The point is: choose a method of agreement to which both parties can agree. If you use your default system, you may find out three years later that your partner never agreed to it.

The leader of a large sending agency once asked me, “how do you sign an international agreement with an African who only wants to shake hands?” It’s a good question.

Don’t Throw God’s Money Around

One of the worst things an American can do in missions is to throw money around loosely. Without genuine relationship, a culturally appropriate method of agreement, a mutually comfortable communication style, effective systems for care and accountability, and a way to determine whether your money and efforts are being used wisely, you are just wasting your hard-earned, God-provided, Christian-sacrificed money.

Don’t throw God’s money around. Be frugal in the beginning. Don’t act like you are made of money but realize that you are rich relative to the other culture. Once you start to give, expect requests for more. Pray about every financial decision.

Do your homework. Does it make sense to give $10,000 to a building project when the average income for the people in that community is $200 per month?

Put differently:  if you are going to give a camel water, make sure it needs your water, from your well, with your chlorine, your cost and your delivery system.

Don’t make the mistakes that others have made before you. In today’s world, there is no reason to be sloppy, unless you are lazy, don’t really care, and only want to complete your agenda. If you want to make a difference in the world, take these seven guidelines to heart.

Finally, don’t forget to define your terms, such as “partner” and “partnership”. Don’t drive everything from your end but do everything on your part to establish a level playing field. Learn how to appreciate your partner’s initiatives for equality, voice, significance and unselfish biblical culture.

This is not about you and your church. This is about the kingdom of God.

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  1. PART ONE: 7 Guidelines for Partnership – Supporting a National or Indigenous Ministry | FULFILL - July 5, 2013

    […] Read PART TWO now […]

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