The Apostle Paul rejoiced in the "partnership in the gospel" he enjoyed with the Philippian church (Phil. 1:5). What Paul rejoiced in during the church's first century needs to be rediscovered by today's church of the 20th century. Partnership is more than a pious platitude; it is a key scriptural tool for the modern church seeking to be more effective in its outreach to a dying world. The Partnership Task Force exists to help each track and nation discover and apply partnership principles to their unique needs and goals.
What is a true partnership? A "partnership" should be distinguished from a "network."
Ministry partnerships can come in two kinds: horizontally and vertically integrated. An example of horizontal integration might be:
The youth ministries in a city decide to buy and operate a youth camp in the country. It's a specialized effort -- all focused on youth -- but it's a long-term project with high commitment required, complex tasks, and specific outcomes planned. It's horizontal because it's all one type of ministry.
A vertical partnership is more holistic, bringing together a variety of approaches and kinds of ministries to address all facets of a problem or all needs of a community. An example might be:
If you are going to reach the community within two square miles of your church for Christ, you have to do more than focus on one group like the youth. As you look at all the needs and opportunities to share Christ, your strategy might include youth work, elderly work, single parenting workshops, drop-in centres, camp ministries, day-care and a host of other ministries linked together to reach the local community for Christ.
Vertical integration focuses on dealing with the whole task -- in this case of reaching individuals for Christ and building the Church. The youth ministries in the "horizontal partnership" example are a vital element or reaching and serving the community, but they are just one element needed in a full strategy to reach and serve a community or city or nation for Christ.
An illustration of horizontal and vertical integration from the automobile industry may be helpful:
To make a complex product, like a car, industry must integrate more than one specialty (vertical integration). Plastics can be used for many products (horizontal integration). But plastics alone will not make a car. Building an automobile requires integration of plastic with steel, electronics, engineering and many more specialties.
The Partnership Task Force's goal is to equip others to set up integrated approaches to reach the unreached. These integrated approaches have been called Strategic Evangelism Partnerships.
AD 2000 is a movement to reach the unreached peoples of the world. A giant step towards accomplishing this goal would be to first reach the approximately 130 "Gateway Peoples." "Gateway Peoples" are those which are significant in size and/or cultural/political dominance such that reaching these peoples would open a gateway to reaching other unreached peoples clustered around them. The Partnership Task Force has chosen these "Gateway Peoples" as its target. The Task Force will facilitate the formation of strategic evangelism partnerships as outlined in the graph on the following page.
All of the 130 "Gateway Peoples" can be grouped into twelve "affinity blocs" (those peoples having similar according to ethno-linguistic and socio-political characteristics). The AD 2000 will seek to facilitate the creation of partnerships to reach the "Gateway Peoples" by establishing eleven regional consultations within 18 months of GCOWE; each regional consultation focus on one particular "affinity bloc."
Partnerships are effective, but they are not easy to create. They only come about when a committed, skilled person works at their creation. Of King David it was said, "with skillful hands he led them" (Psalm 78:72). The Partnership Task Force aims to provide GCOWE delegates with the skills necessary to partnership development in several ways:
Phill Butler serves as both the coordinator of AD 2000 Partnership Task Force and as director of Interdev, an organization dedicated to the setting up of strategic evangelism partnerships to the unreached. Interdev has made its resources, both its training opportunities and its operations expertise, available to the AD 2000 Movement. Should you want to contact Interdev in order to find out what training is available and what operational opportunities exist, contact either of the following two addresses. Also check the GCOWE program for the Interdev location in the convention center.Phill Butler, U.S.A.