Some Thoughts on Partnering Well

Steve Douglass - Cru

It excites me greatly to see God at work through the Global Alliance for Church Multiplication. So many ministries and churches have launched fruitful partnerships to move toward the goal of 5 million multiplying church plants by the end of 2020.

Through the years, I have been involved with quite a few partnerships in ministry. Some have succeeded tremendously. Others have not done as well. So how can you know when it is right to lock arms with other organizations in pursuit of a God-given vision? And what can you do to make those partnerships successful?

The following are a few important items to consider in answering these two questions:

1. Common Outcomes

Different organizations have different callings from God. But they can work together well on a project if there is a shared vision and, most significantly, if they can agree on outcomes that are mutually beneficial. For example, the emphasis of Christian humanitarian aid (meeting people’s physical needs) and the focus of most ministries committed to evangelism and discipleship ministries differ. However, I’ve seen such entities come together to meet more people’s physical needs, increase opportunities to share the gospel and, in turn, launch more new churches.

2. Complementary Contributions

Not only can callings be diverse, but strengths can be quite different as well. Some ministries, for example, are very effective in using digital methods to expose large numbers of people to the gospel. A local church, though, is likely more experienced at assimilating new converts into fellowship and following up on the ground in personal discipleship and communities of faith. No partner should waver from its calling and mission – the work it does best – but rather use its strengths to complement those of other organizations.

3. Improved Fruitfulness

The value of most partnerships among ministries and churches is increased fruitfulness – an advancement of the Kingdom of God. Generally, organizations should partner when they can accomplish more together than could be achieved apart. For example, several churches or ministries might consider coming together to share legal, financial or communications expertise and expenses to lessen some redundancy of work. Doing so could perhaps free-up added resources (e.g., manpower) to accomplish more in the field – leading to more converts, disciples, and new church plants.

There is a big difference between talking about something and taking effective action. Don’t partner if you can’t commit to engage significantly.

4. Commitment to Action

There is a big difference between just talking about something and taking effective action. Partnership projects should have a purpose toward which all of the partners who commit can be motivated to be involved. For example, in July 2000 there was a meeting of a group of several hundred missions leaders. They were discussing the fact that many unreached people groups had no one even trying to reach them. A number of us from different ministries were sitting around one of the discussion tables. God touched our hearts in a powerful way to realize that we needed to commit to take dramatic action. The Table 71 partnership formed that week. In the fifteen years since, by God’s grace, we’ve seen absolutely remarkable results.

Don’t partner if you can’t commit to engage significantly. However, with motives pure and organizations all-in, who knows how a new GACX partnering venture might transform the landscape of a community, a campus or even a whole nation.

One Final, Essential Ingredient

Where differences exist, so can comparisons. Considering ourselves better than others and looking down on others is sin. Philippians 2:3 says, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.” No single person, church or ministry has all of the perspective, strategies or resources that are needed to fulfill God’s Great Commission. We are arrogant to think otherwise.

As you live out the “one another” verses of Scripture – encouraging, giving and collaborating with partners in a Spirit of genuine biblical humility – God can accomplish more than you could ever dream possible.

As you contemplate entering into a partnership with others, I trust these thoughts can be of value. God is pleased when His children work together in unity – especially when they do it well, with the right Spirit and in ways that make sense to all involved.

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