The Great Commission will not be fulfilled by chance. It can only be fulfilled through godly unity and cooperation. Interdev calls such cooperative efforts partnerships, whether they have a formal, written constitution, or merely a general agreement of mutual Kingdom goals. In both kinds of partnership, the needs of field ministries must drive the decisions.
It's hard to build a house if the builders don't work together. It is hard to build a church among a people if ministry specialties don't work together. In some ways, that's what our mission efforts have been like. Ministries train workers separately, may schedule outreaches with little thought about coordinating with others working in the area and often present Christ from different perspectives. Additionally, two or more different ministries may broadcast, print literature, or send missionaries to one people group, while lost people from another nearby language group never hear anything of Christ. A better example is that of a case history from North Africa:A man named Ahmed, seeking for life's answers, began listening to a Christian radio broadcast. He wrote for a Bible correspondence course, which eventually led to a meeting in person with a Christian worker, who led him to the Lord. Ahmed commuted to a night Bible course in another town, and became part of a growing church fellowship. Five different ministry agencies deliberately coordinated their efforts over a period of several years, evangelizing Ahmed till he was part of a growing national church. They agreed to "share" the ministry to Ahmed, each contributing what they did best, whether broadcasting, literature, having local personal workers visit him, or networking with local national Christians.Strategic Evangelism/Church Planting Partnership is Biblical
Scripture calls for believers to work together in unity. Christians generally agree, but organizational pride, egos, finances, and independent agendas keep Christians from working with others outside of their own church or organization.
Consider John 17:20-23, where twice in four verses Jesus prays that His followers may be one, in order that the world may believe and know that God the Father sent Jesus. He hinged the credibility of our mission message on our oneness in Him. It's as if He said to the world, "Don't believe them if they don't have unity among themselves."
Partnerships Model the Power of Community Witness
Westerners, who often live at a high level of individual isolation, often don't comprehend the united power that extended family and community holds over individuals in tradition oriented cultures. The millions of people in unreached language groups and unreached cities are nearly all from traditional cultures. Family and community are critically important to them. To establish viable national churches within the 10/40 window, missionaries must offer a Christian community at least as strong and relational as the one from which converts come. Partnerships model these relationships to more effectively equip indigenous leadership.
Partnerships are the Most Effective Way to Develop a Church
The ultimate goal of evangelism is always a functioning body of believers. Medical work alone doesn't establish a church. Neither does literature, teaching, or Bible translation. An evangelist or church planter may start a church but his task is vastly easier if he has some contacts, some sowing beforehand with literature and teaching help. But a viable national church is more likely to develop when all the specialty ministries work together.
Partnerships Are Needed Because of Volatile World Conditions
Sudden, unstable changes in politics and borders cry out for sharing risks and opportunities. The greatest mission opportunities of our century beckon... today. World conditions call for strategic planning, anticipating change and preparing responses. The linked resources of multiple ministries can provide the diversity, flexibility, funding, prayer support and speed necessary for a timely, appropriate response.
Partnerships Maximize Over-Stretched Resources
The church has the resources to fulfill the Great Commission, but not enough to waste in duplicate efforts and conflicting agendas. Worse than the waste and garbled message that comes of duplication, is that some people of the world get left out completely. The church has the manpower, money, prayer resources and technology to fulfill the Great Commission in our age. But it will not be fulfilled by chance. It can only be fulfilled through godly unity and cooperation.
Abridged from: The<> Power of Partnership: Working Together to Reach the Unreached, Interdev. 1998.
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