- Field-Based Partnerships

 Interdev - The Power of Partnership
Why Partnership?

Unreached areas that do not have a nationally led, viable, reproducing Church make up
38% of the world's population or 2.2 billion people.
Areas of the world where there is an established or emerging Church make up
62% of the world's population.

Imagine that you decided to build a house…
Depending on where you live, you might get your friends to help you build it, or you might hire builders. Either way, think what would happen if each worker on the house didn't know what the others were doing or if there was no architectural plan.

What if the person planning the size and shape of the house never talked to the one ordering building materials? What if the one cutting materials didn't coordinate with the one putting the pieces in place? What if each worker didn't know when others were coming to build or how his work fit anyone else's?

In some ways, that's what our mission efforts have been like. A radio ministry broadcasts one message about the Lamb of God and sacrifice. Printed materials from another ministry present Christ from a different perspective, perhaps as the King of Kings. Personal evangelists then share films and preaching from the perspective of a "fallen nature," our sin, and the need for forgiveness. Can you see where this might cause some misunderstanding? In addition, all of these ministries train workers separately and may schedule outreaches with little thought about coordinating with others who work in the area.

The non-Christian approached by disorganized ministries is like someone looking at the house where none of the builders worked together. It looks like a strange and uninviting house. The one listening to these ministries hears disjointed messages from different Christian outreaches.

Many times, two or more different ministries will broadcast radio programs, print literature, or send missionaries to one people group, while people from another nearby language group never hear anything of Christ. There is a better way.

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 often keep Christians from working with others outside of their own church or organization. In addition, concepts of unity without a scriptural basis in Christ have made some believers suspicious.

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. Except for the Great Commission itself, this is one of the strongest comments Jesus made on missions. He hinged the credibility of our mission message on our oneness in Him.

John 13:35, John 17:11, I Corinthians 12:4-17, Ephesians 4:1-16, and Philippians 1:27 all describe facets of our unity in Christ.

The Bible is more than theological theory about unity. I Corinthians 12 says that coordination between believers should be as "down-to-earth" and practical as coordination between the parts of one's human body.

Why partner together to reach the unreached? It is Biblical.

COOPERATION: A Case History of Partnership
A man name 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.

Despite responsibilities of running a shop and caring for his aged mother, Ahmed commuted overnight once a month for an all day 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, sharing the Good News of Christ with Ahmed until he was part of a growing national church.

It wasn't mere coincidence that Ahmed received a correspondence course, or that someone was in place to talk to him when he was ready. The broadcasters gave Ahmed's name to the correspondence people. The correspondence worker referred him to a missionary in the area, who passed Ahmed on to Bible teachers and national church leaders.

These agencies planned ahead of time how to contact, follow up, bring to Christ, and disciple people into a local church. They agreed to "share" their ministry to Ahmed, each contributing what they did best, whether broadcasting, literature distribution, having local personal workers visit him, or networking with local national Christians.

Partnerships Model the Power of Community Witness.
In the West, most people live at a high level of individual isolation compared to people from traditional societies, who live their lives as an integral part of an extended family and community. Westerners, especially, often don't comprehend the united power that family and community hold over the individual in traditionally-oriented cultures.

The millions of people in unreached language groups and unreached cities are nearly all from traditional cultures. Family, community, and relationships are critically important to them.

Imagine how our missionary efforts look to people within these traditional communities.

Missionaries are usually outsiders, not connected to the local traditional world. And, what seems amazing to traditional people, the Christian outsiders are not even connected to one another!

Separate, individualistic ministries rob Christianity of believability.

In the John 17:20-23 passage already mentioned, Jesus seems to have anticipated this obstacle. He indicated the way to be believable is to have believable unity.

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 the task of establishing and sustaining a church is vastly easier if there are some contacts and some sowing beforehand with literature and teaching help.

Combining these efforts, so that each specialty contributes its best toward the goal of a viable national church, is the essence of a Strategic Evangelism/Church-Planting Partnership.

Such a partnership is integrated, including many specialties and contributors. In an integrated partnership, ministries specializing in relief, professional services, translation, radio, literature, evangelism, discipleship, and a multitude of other services can voluntarily coordinate their efforts in one overall ministry goal of establishing believers in a strong national church.

To use the house analogy again, it takes integrated materials to build a house. Wood alone isn't a house. Neither is glass, cement, or stone. Workers who know how to build with these items contribute their part and work together to produce the goal of a new house.

Partnerships Are Needed Because of Volatile World Conditions.
The world is a radically different place today than even yesterday. It is estimated that we now have access to countries and people groups representing over a billion people that we couldn't reach ten years ago.

Thus, the greatest mission opportunities of recent history beckon…today.

At the same time, risk and hostility threaten many of these new opportunities.

Sudden, unstable changes in politics and borders cry out for sharing risks and opportunities in a partnership — flexible enough to seize these openings and broad enough to adjust to setbacks.

In these circumstances, no one agency can go it alone — particularly in a holistic Evangelism/Church-Planting strategy for a nation, a great city, or a people group. The linked resources of multiple ministries, however, can provide the diversity, flexibility, funding, prayer support, and speed necessary for a timely, appropriate response.

World conditions call for planning strategically, anticipating change, and preparing responses in coordinated ways.

Partnerships Maximize Over-Stretched Resources.
Our scarce and overworked resources of people, money, and equipment cry out for coordination of effort. 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 come from duplication, is that some people of the world are left out completely.

Since 1986, Strategic Evangelism/Church-Planting Partnerships have demonstrated that for every pound, dollar, mark, yen, rand, and rouble invested in partnership development, people and financial resources are invested more efficiently many times over in the total evangelism initiative.

The Church has the people, 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.

These partnerships, whether they have a formal, written constitution or merely a general agreement of mutual Kingdom goals, allow the needs of field ministries and indigenous churches to drive the decisions.

When a partnership is focused on reaching a language or people group, integrating all the ministries, it is a Strategic Evangelism/Church-Planting Partnership.

Thus, partnerships work because they:
• are Biblical.
• model community witness.
• are more effective in church planting.
• are responsive to world conditions.
• maximize our resources.
A Case History
Seven ministry agencies working with related people groups felt a need to better train their workers how to communicate in those cultures. Each agency trained its candidates separately.

After cautious meetings and exploration, they started a combined training course. Each ministry provided its best trainers. The result? "This course reduces mistakes by new missionaries and makes them effective much sooner," says one agency director.

"An unexpected bonus," he added, "is how field people from different agencies now trust each other and work together in evangelism, discipleship, and media projects — all because they know each other from the joint candidate course."

From The Power of Partnership: Working Together to Reach the Unreached, 1998, Interdev.

Partnerships: Field-Based |<> Nationals |<> Church/Agency

Cooperation: Networking | Partnerships | Church<> Planting

AGP: Introduction | Adoption | Cooperation | Individual<> Involvement | Resources