- Partnering With Nationals
Mike Berg, former director of the Latin American Mission (LAM), recalls a missionary of another agency asking for suggestions as to how to form a partnership with the national ministries they'd started. "We've been watching you folks," he said, "and we'd like to do what you're doing in a couple of years." The Latin American missionary laughed and said, "We've been working at this forty years you know."
The Latin American Mission went through the tensions of transition much earlier than most independent faith missions. Founder Ken Strachan pushed Latin evangelists to the fore in the 20s. By 1945 the church was a completely autonomous body.
But the mission had also spawned a network of far-reaching institutions—a seminary, radio station, schools, publishing house. By 1970 LAM decided in consultation with these ministries to give each its autonomy under a partnership umbrella, the Community of Latin American Evangelical Ministries (CLAME).
Under the CLAME process, ministries were released to national leadership and LAM served primarily as an employment agency, recruiting and sending missionaries as requested by the various institutions. In the early years of the partnership, the CLAME office was busy handling property transfers, and fulfilling certain services for the partners, such as accounting and public relations. There were high hopes that the institutions would receive large sums of money, but they soon found that LAM had no pot at the end of the rainbow" which could now be disbursed to the other partners.
As the partners grew stronger and their leadership became more experienced, they became less dependent upon LAM and each other. Though still depending upon LAM for personnel and finances, they also developed other sources to meet their needs.
On the one hand, LAM grappled with its own purpose and redefinition of its role. There was less demand for LAM missionaries as the agencies became more self-sufficient. Would there soon be no need for LAM?
On the other hand, there was disappointment that the agencies continued to be totally immersed in the development and operation of their own institutions and did not become a missionary outreach. As a result LAM began redefining its role and developed its own "Christ for the City" program in which LAM missionaries, by invitation of local churches, concentrated on evangelism and church planting in major cities of Latin America.
In 1985 CLAME dissolved—not in failure and disagreement—but because the partnership was no longer needed. Each of the agencies which survived were strong and functioning.
Click here for original documents from Partnership:<> the New Direction in World Evangelism by Lorry Lutz and Luis Bush, 1990, InterVarsity Press.
Cooperation: Networking | Partnerships | Church<> Planting
AGP: Introduction | Adoption | Cooperation | Individual<> Involvement | Resources