- Partnering with Nationals
Basic principles to make the move easier from paternalism to partnership:
PREPARE PEOPLE WITH PARTNERSHIP IN MIND
Missionaries going to the mission field today need to be intellectually and emotionally prepared not only to share leadership, but to take a servant role. Their greatest joy should be to see the national church develop leadership and initiative. At the same time western partners will constantly be looking for ways to fill the gaps, meet needs, inspire vision and stretch beyond the abilities of the local church. National church leaders need to learn to look upon western missionaries as partners, not patrons, co-workers, not competitors.
BE OPEN WITH EVERYTHING
Keeping finances and decision making processes secret simply insures misunderstanding. Partners must be open with each other if they are going to trust each other.
BEGIN TO DEVELOP A BOARD OF NATIONALS RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING IF
Serving on a board is a great learning experience for everyone. People learn how others think and how they make decisions by working through problems together. This is one of the most supportive, non-directive means of stimulating leadership maturity. Board member selection is also important. The national church, not the mission, knows who will best represent it.
DEFINE THE ROLE OF THE ORIGINAL MISSION CLEARLY
While SIM retained its right to<> survey new areas and work with the church in developing new outreach, LAM allowed itself to be put in a simple servant role of supplying personnel and money. Since the most successful partnerships are between two or more independent organizations who share the same goal, LAM found its role frustrating and unsatisfying after a time. Its goal to see the church expand into unreached areas of Latin America was being thwarted by the internal goals of the CLAME institutions. Fortunately LAM was able to make a mid-course correction, which, had the partnership continued, would most likely have been a complementary role in the partnership.
BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
C. S. Lewis describes the alternative to love in his book, The Four Loves.
"If you want to make sure of not getting hurt . . . carefully wrap it with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in a casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside heaven where your heart cannot be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is hell."Missions and national churches have found that exchanging a parenting relationship for a partnering role involves risks. What will happen when unilateral leadership is replaced by joint consultations? What if the results of discussions go contrary to our plans and priorities? What if financial accountability takes second place to culturally accepted monetary practices? What if autonomy opens the door to new ideas, unacceptable influences, even doctrinal shifts?
The national church may risk losing its cultural identity, its accepted decision making practices and even some financial freedom when it partners with the agency that spawned it. But the determination to maintain unilateral leadership, decision making power, and financial control by the mission or the church may be the greatest risk of all.
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