What is needed before effective partnering can take place. I can think of quite a number of things. But I think a proper policy could probably be considered as extremely important. This may sound a bit strange. Obviously in missions there is (or should be) a lot of dependency upon the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t we then rely upon Him to guide us from day to day? In an ideal world this sounds wonderful. But unfortunately this doesn’t work very well in practice. I can think of at least three reasons why a policy is essential. Here I am focussing mostly on financial help:
I have seen churches getting involved in every type of mission that comes their way. They become involved in fifty different countries with two hundred different missionaries. Obviously, if God calls a church to do this, then they should. But more often than not this type of church also has a limited budget. The cake has to be divided and the more people wanting a piece of the cake, the smaller the portions become, until, in the end, the help given becomes so small that it can’t really make much difference where it is really needed.
It gives protection to the church on the “mission field”. Being a missionary myself, I know how extremely difficult it is to ask for help. With a policy, the church on the mission field will know exactly what can and what cannot be asked for. Should a crisis occur, the missionary may be able to approach the partner church with a request to assist, if the policy makes provision for this. Should the policy be phrased differently, the missionary will know that help will have to be found in another place. Whatever the case may be, to know beforehand what the policy of the partner church is, will help a great deal.
It gives protection to the “home church” in that it enables the home church to end the partnership should things go wrong. This doesn’t mean that the home church should be quick to make decisions like that, but when it is found that the mission church is no longer functioning in the way in which it was originally envisioned (and that the changes are not justified!) – then the home church can, on the grounds of a well-defined policy decide to end the partnership. In other words, they should never have to feel that they are in a situation where they have to give support, even if the mission church is going in an entirely wrong direction.
These are just some short remarks. I would really appreciate feedback from people who have already formulated a policy for partnership. What works and what does not? Would you consider the above remarks correct or do you feel differently about them?