- Networking Radio Ministries
World by 2000 is a network of international radio ministries committing themselves to work together so that everyone on earth may have the opportunity to hear the gospel in a language they can understand. The networking of the five international radio ministries was founded on a biblical principle of working together in the unity of the Spirit in obedience to the commission given by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 28:18-20 and Mk. 16:15.
World by 2000 is a name given to a commitment and has never been incorporated as an entity in itself. Defining World by 2000 requires an understanding of a little of its history and who is involved in the commitment. As we look at the various factors making World by 2000 successful, it is helpful to keep in mind we will be discussing the strength of a commitment and philosophy or biblical principle in action, not an institution. As such, the concept is timeless and transferable even though the initial “experiment” of this ministry commitment calls for closure by the year 2000.
On July 17, 1985 the initial concept of the World by 2000 commitment was drafted by Dr. Ron Cline, the President of HCJB World Radio, on a flight from Frankfurt to Chicago. Further refinement was made to the statement in conversation with Dr. Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center for World Mission. On September 10, 1985, the Presidents of three of the international radio ministries, Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), HCJB World Radio (HCJB), and Trans World Radio (TWR) signed the following covenant:
We are committed to provide every man, woman and child on earth the opportunity to turn on their radios and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in a language they can understand so they can become followers of Christ and responsible members of His church. We plan to complete this task by the year 2000.1In December 1985, SIM joined in the commitment and with FEBA Radio being initially represented through FEBC, it was technically possible to reach everyone on earth with gospel broadcast transmissions. Cooperative networking by these five ministries would focus new complementary efforts for developing gospel broadcasts in languages with little or no gospel witness. Networking together, the World by 2000 ministries reduced duplicate efforts in developing new language broadcasts and pooled their resources to research what languages had the greatest need for broadcasts.
Networking in ministry essentially means sharing information to more efficiently develop and carry out a strategy. This is in contrast to two other terms, partnership and alliance, used at times to mean nearly the same thing. A partnership implies a higher level of commitment and may grow out of a network to address a specialized focus. With a partnership there likely will be an active involvement in facilitating one another in ministry. An alliance would be a more formal and obligatory arrangement of a network or partnership. World by 2000 is best understood as a network of ministries where specialized partnerships may be developed and alliances made to accomplish a particular objective.
While there are a number of other successful networks in ministry, the question of what makes World by 2000 a successful network continues to be raised by other ministries interested in setting up a similar arrangement in their fields of ministry. Answering these questions demonstrated the need to identify specific factors and some distinct characteristics other ministries may find helpful in establishing a similar network. Recognizing the value of working together in World by 2000, identifying the factors making it a success will also help the partners in the World by 2000 commitment ensure these factors are considered as they plan for a network understanding beyond the year 2000.
Networking is a biblical concept practiced in the early church where teaching, training and the sharing of information served a strategic purpose. In Acts 8 we see the church scattered and the apostles responding to the needs of a growing church started through Philip’s ministry by sending Peter and John to network in ministry with Philip. Similarly, in Acts 9, God “networked” Ananias and Barnabas together with the church to launch Saul into ministry. Acts 11 shows the accountability and strength of the early church’s network of churches. The apostles at this point in the history of the church functioned as much like network facilitators as they did missionaries.
In networking ministries, it is assumed that we are coworkers together with Christ and the ministries He has raised up through His Spirit are not the results of mankind’s creation. Being, therefore, several ministries raised up by God for the purpose of ministry in working towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we should be looking for opportunities to facilitate and complement one another in the field of ministry He has entrusted to us. Part of the basis of working together in the World by 2000 network is not only the functional affinity the partners have, but more importantly, their theological and doctrinal affinity. This is an important assumption for maintaining a spirit of unity.
Networking together in our fields of ministry is assumed to be an expected norm and communication among the networking parties is, therefore, very important and needs to be carefully maintained so information needed for effective strategic planning is shared openly.
The limitations faced in this project of identifying the factors making World by 2000 a successful network are finding ways to quantify the spiritual dimension involved in its success and how this is established and maintained. Another limitation involves knowing how to identify and incorporate the subjective factors contributing to the success of World by 2000 in addition to the objective and concrete factors. Time is a limiting factor for the leadership of World by 2000 in their contribution to this project. All of them are very busy people with demanding travel schedules and leadership responsibilities in their respective ministries.
In the following pages we will be looking at what others have said about networking in its various forms and World by 2000 in particular. An overview will be given concerning some of the dynamics involved in the World by 2000 network of ministries. A description will be given as to the survey conducted with the leadership of World by 2000 and what conclusions may be drawn from the survey. Finally, a concluding evaluation will be presented with observations for further study and recommendations arising from this study.
RESEARCH AND REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Networking in ministry is very similar to alliances in warfare. Countries maintain their own autonomy but work together in the battle. Sometimes they are side-by-side on the same battlefront, at other times they complement each other’s efforts on different battlefronts while working towards a shared objective.
Dwight Eisenhower said, “The problem is delicate, tricky, and important—but success in allied ventures can be achieved if the chief figures in the government and in the field see the necessities of the situation and refuse to violate the basic principle of unity, either in public or in the confidence of the personal contacts with subordinates and staffs.”2 Similarly, Dan Wooding says:
Winning a war takes teamwork: armed services operating in tandem, specialized
accomplishing specific missions, and the use of many different weapons and artillery.
Managing a huge endeavor such as a war requires synergy and communication.
In much the same way, missionary radio now has a strategic alliance WB2000—an
Force commissioned by God, manned by established global ministries, and armed with
bombs of truth from the Word of God.3
Strategic networking in World by 2000 first of all requires a spiritual commitment as a basis for effectiveness. The objectives in the World by 2000 network are dependent on the Holy Spirit producing fruit in relationship among the partners and healthy churches in the harvest field. It is easy to focus on the functional aspects contributing to the success of the World by 2000 but the intangible dimensions are just as important, probably more important, but more difficult to quantify. The implementation of the World by 2000 concept requires a great deal from leadership of each of the ministry partners to determine to communicate and meet together regularly. This may be the reason there are very few ministry networks functioning at the same interactive level as World by 2000.
Luis Palau says, “The World by 2000 is a concept long overdue in world evangelism. I believe we can attain the goal of evangelizing every major language group in the world in our generation.”4 Missiologist Patrick Johnstone lends his endorsement, “The WB2000 vision is breathtaking in its concept and implications.” Johnstone comments as well on some of the limitations of broadcasting and then concludes, “However, it is a commendable cooperative plan to ensure almost total coverage of the world’s population. May it happen!”5
Luis Palau sums up the partnership commitment this way, “And you know the World by 2000 is a great model, a biblical example of what biblical cooperation is all about, an example to all of us that we must get behind and pray and support.”6
DESCRIPTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MINISTRY PROGRAM
The focus of this study is to identify factors that have made the World by 2000 network successful. World by 2000 is a network of international radio ministries having a global coverage with gospel broadcasts. Coordinating the ministry of the five partners involves numerous broadcast station locations and broadcast schedules, program production and follow-up facilities in a variety of national, political and cultural settings. Communication and a clear understanding of the spiritual concept and commitment is essential for a network such as World by 2000 to work on a global basis.
Identifying the factors that have made World by 2000 successful as an international ministry network will help to produce a model for others to implement in their particular ministry setting. Knowing the factors contributing to the success of the World by 2000 network should also help define an international radio ministry network for the future.
In an attempt to get the most complete picture possible, the survey was divided into five sections covering principles and philosophy, organizational and functional, partnership versus networking, office functions, and other remarks, with open-ended questions to give opportunity to express observations and concerns not completely covered with the other questions.
COLLECTING, ORGANIZING AND INTERPRETING THE DATA
The first area we looked at in the survey was the principles and philosophy of World by 2000. There were six questions in this area covering the relative importance or significance of the World by 2000 statement of commitment, leadership of various aspects of the network and the implications of the World by 2000 commitment on the partner ministries.
The survey asked for the ranking of the relative importance of the clarity of the statement of commitment, leadership of the Executive and Steering Committees and the research/coordination office, and the Executive and Steering Committee meetings. The results indicate that each factor ranked, except Executive Committee Meetings, contributed nearly equally to the success of World by 2000.
The next question in the survey asked about whose level of commitment to World by 2000 was most significant. Five options were given covering the President or CEO, headquarters staff, field and programming staff, all of above, and other. Here the responses indicated nearly equal significance for the President and CEO being committed to World by 2000 and “All of above”. This seems to demonstrate that the Presidents and CEOs need to demonstrate support for the network and empower the facilitation of the network but everyone needs to believe in the concept and value of the network or it will not be successful at a functional level.
The next four questions dealt with the impact or significance of World by 2000 on ministry strategy, headquarters and field staff, and public relations and donors. With very few exceptions the survey indicated that networking in World by 2000 helped to focus ministry strategy while also acknowledging that in some cases this caused some tension or frustration. Helping to focus strategy seems to be a significant positive contribution to the partner ministries.
The impact on donor and public relations is a particularly interesting one since this was a significant concern to the World by 2000 partners when they initially entered into this commitment with each other. From the experience of the World by 2000 partners it would appear the network has been a benefit, not a hindrance, in relationship to one's constituents.
The second major section of the survey dealt with organizational and functional matters. The Steering Committee meetings are the most significant with the functions of the research and coordination office close behind. These two factors represent the implementation of the World by 2000 objectives, the coordination of strategy and communication among the World by 2000 partners.
It seems as though each component of the committee meetings is meeting a need and is in about the right proportion to the others. Most felt two meetings per year was the right amount while other suggestions were for meetings every eight to ten months or as many as three or more per year.
The last area of consideration dealing with organizational and functional matter is the ranking of the various means of communication. Communication by e-mail and meetings ranked nearly equal and by far the most important means of communication.
The third major section of the survey had to do with partnership versus networking. Partnership requires a higher level of commitment than networking. For the purpose of this study, partnership will be taken to essentially imply an active involvement in facilitating one another in ministry. Partnership in ministry would tend towards merging the identities of partner ministries. In World by 2000, the ministries who have joined together in the World by 2000 commitment may be referred to as partners together in the commitment but are not necessarily involved in partner relationships at the field and implementation level of the commitment.
Networking, on the other hand, will be taken to essentially mean the sharing of information for strategic purposes toward the implementation of the World by 2000 commitment. In networking, each ministry continues to retain its own identity while working at some level of cooperation with the others in World by 2000. This networking cooperation may at times develop into a partner relationship in a particular aspect of ministry or with a specific focus in ministry.
In assessing how the World by 2000 partners viewed the partnership in ministry as compared to networking, the survey focused on three levels or aspects involved in partnership. Those surveyed were asked to rank the areas of partnership with which they were most comfortable, which would contribute to ministry effectiveness, and which would demonstrate mutual commitment to each other.
It is interesting to note the trends in all three areas follow a similar pattern. The ranking was lower for partnership in follow-up and public relations and higher for partnership in strategic planning and specific language ministries. It is interesting to note that in the first section of the survey, the partners in the World by 2000 commitment felt their participation in World by 2000 was viewed favorably as far as their donor and public relations efforts. In this part of the survey however, they did not rank partnership highly in public relations efforts in any of the three categories.
The fourth section of the survey covered some of the World by 2000 research and coordination office functions. Functioning as a central coordination point for information was rated the most important but significance was given to the other areas specified as well. All functions, except for representing World by 2000 partners in conferences and consultations, are highly information and communication oriented. One of the major functional roles of the World by 2000 office is to help provide and facilitate the flow of information for the World by 2000 network.
The last question in the section on office functions was to assess where change may be needed to improve the effectiveness of World by 2000. The responses indicated equal emphasis on continuing to function as it is and providing systematic follow-up to matters arising from the committee meetings. There was also some desire expressed for the Research Office to maintain a higher public profile on behalf of the ministry partners.
The last section of the survey gave opportunity for other remarks to be made and was primarily subjective in format. An opportunity was given to mark various factors which might be strengthened or improved upon within the World by 2000 network. Comments were made in every area, all of them constructive, or at least highly supportive of the World by 2000 concept and commitment. There were several comments fitting into some general categories and while we will not attempt to make reference to all of them, there are a few which appeared in one form or another in several surveys.
It was recognized in the survey that the success of the World by 2000 has rested heavily on a commitment to a vision for the spiritual needs of the world and how, as a network, these needs could be more effectively addressed together than as individual ministries. The Holy Spirit has dealt with the proprietary feelings over the ministry one may be involved with, but protecting a ministry investment in a networking environment requires discernment, grace, and at times forgiveness.
It was also acknowledged that it requires a sense of priority and decision of the will to be actively involved in the World by 2000 network and not to resort to focusing primarily on one’s own ministry involvement. The question was also raised as to whether the Steering Committee members were adequately empowered by their own ministries to make commitments on behalf of their own organizations.
The need was expressed for more extensive sharing of information in regard to each ministry’s strategic plans and for the research and coordination office to consider producing executive summary type reports and recommendations based on the wealth of information to which it has access. While acknowledging that e-mail is a great facilitator and means of communication, it was suggested it should be used more proactively.
Regularly meetings together were felt to be extremely important for building trust and relationship. The meetings, however, might have more clearly defined goals with better identification and follow-up on action items. Ideas for making the Steering Committee meetings more inclusive or exclusive were also shared.
EVALUATION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
World by 2000 provides a networking model for ministry. Having had the experience of eleven years of working together, the partners in the World by 2000 commitment have experienced the synergism coming out of meeting, praying, and working together, bearing one another’s burdens and sharing in the joys of victories won. Because of their commitment to the World by 2000 objective, and experience in working through the challenges of successful networking, the leadership in the World by 2000 network also have a balanced perspective as to the energy it takes to make networking successful.
The significant factors contributing the success of the World by 2000
1. Commitment of ministry leadership to the value of networking
2. A clear statement of purpose for the network
3. Theological and doctrinal agreement
4. Two levels of committees, an executive level relating more to philosophical matters, and a steering level relating to functional and implementation matters
5. Spontaneous informal communication such as e-mail
6. A facilitator or coordinator for communications and expediting
7. A sense of being connected with other ministries while maintaining autonomy
8. Commitment to meet together regularly, maintaining fellowship and opportunities for strong relational bonds with each other
9. Sharing with one another personally as well as strategically
The survey pointed out a few concerns the partners in the World by 2000 network should be aware of. While endorsement was high for World by 2000 as a network, it was felt that more emphasis on behalf of the executive leadership of the partner ministries would be helpful in communicating their personal commitment to the World by 2000 network. Time demands on everyone in the leadership of World by 2000 tend to keep the priorities of their immediate ministry involvement above that of purposeful networking towards the World by 2000 objectives. Another concern is for all of the World by 2000 leadership to purpose to maintain the value of the relational and spiritual dynamics of the World by 2000 network, first of all among themselves, but also at its implementation level.
Further study may be warranted concerning the World by 2000 network implementation at the field levels as to how it may be more field based. With partnership in strategic planning and specific language ministries ranking high on this survey, more study as to what this may mean and how it may be implemented should be considered.
Abridged from World<> by 2000: A Model for Ministry Networking June 1997 by Arnold H. Remtema, Director of World<> by 2000.