Partnering in Missions
I’ve picked up a number of people writing about partnering on their mission blogs. The latest that I saw is: To Partner or Not To Partner that is the Question! When reading this post, I realised that there may be different ways to partner. What you find there is an informal type of partnership where an individual comes along and after some discussions the two of you decide to become partners in some kind of mission project. I have personally experienced wonderful blessing from this type of informal partnership. This is definitely something that I will write more about in the future.
What I am more interested in at this stage, is a formal type of partnership, where one congregation becomes a partner of another congregation (also known as “twinning”), mostly somewhere in the mission field, in order to assist the second congregation to work effectively. But I have often seen such partnerships failing. My guess is that these partnerships usually consist of one congregation giving and the other one receiving and after a while the exhilaration of doing something for the Lord dies down and eventually the partnership stops functioning.
In no way was this better illustrated to me than when I was once asked to facilitate a meeting on mission in a certain mainline church. The specific congregation, as the “mother” church, had been experiencing increasing tension with the “daughter” church in their area. This was a typical South African situation where white people were doing missionary work amongst black people. After spending some time in discussing various aspects of their missionary task, I asked the (predominantly white) group: “Do you really need the black Christians?” After some moments of embarrassed silence, one person had the courage to say openly: “To be quite honest, we do not need them and we do not need anything from them. We are doing quite fine on our own.”
Is there a better way, a more effective way of partnering or twinning which will be able to work for a long time. I would really welcome comments. Share your experiences. This is such a huge topic, that we can really spend time thinking through the various issues. Are you in such a partnership? Is it working? Why or why not?