Friday, March 23, 2012

5 Questions for Developing Partnerships

Last week we established a good foundation and understanding of partnership, but how do you actually go about initializing or establishing one?  Here are five key questions to work through as you seek to develop an effective cross-cultural partnership.

1) Who are we as a church and what are we hoping to accomplish?  There are lots of good things, and lots of needs overseas.  But you need to evaluate your own church, understand your DNA so you will know how, and where you should connect. 

Here are some sample questions you might ask: What types of ministry do you do well? What are your people passionate about? What do they do for a vocation? What have you been engaged with in the past? What challenges might your church have in developing a partnership?

2) As a church, what do we have to contribute to the partnership, and what do we hope to gain? If you are going to approach a potential partner, you need to know what you have to offer and what benefits you hope to see for your church.

3) Who is our potential partner?  Seek to get to know their vision, their passion, and their scope.  This may involve a trip to the field. Do you know anyone else who has worked with them in the past? If so, seek information from them.

4) What does your potential partner have to offer, and what do they hope to gain?  I once asked a national pastor what his church could contribute to a partnership with an upper middle class church in Sydney, Australia. He stared at me dumbfounded.  I don’t think anyone had ever asked him that before. Yet they did have much to contribute in terms of passion, vision and evangelism.

Don’t sell your potential partners short. Be prepared to help them contribute to the growth of your church.

5) What are we partnering together to do? Is it developing a new ministry focus, a building project, a scope of impact or length of time?  You and your potential partner can evaluate that together, remembering to take into account the goals and objectives for both parties.

As we stated earlier, partnerships work best when focused around a specific project or time frame.  It is easy to set out goals, plans and objectives, to evaluate our progress towards those goals, and celebrate their completion.

Remember, “Well begun is half done!” If you lay a good foundation in developing the partnership, it will alleviate many of the stresses and challenges in the ongoing partnership.

Article by Brian Stark

Brian Stark is the Director of International Partnerships for DELTA Ministries International. His focus is to come alongside the leadership of existing mission efforts in other countries for a limited time to assist in developing a church-based model of mobilization and short-term missions by that country for that country. The goal is to equip and engage nationals to execute effective church-based mission efforts through short-term missions and without direct long-term assistance. Brian has been a part of developing partnerships between sending churches in the US, Australia, and New Zealand and hosting churches in more than 20 countries.

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