Partnership development is the term in vogue these days for what once was known as deputation. But are we using it honestly? Does it really represent what we’re trying to do? Is it a nice theory that is all but impossible to apply?
It seems to me that, much of the time (if not most) when we talk about partnership development we are really talking about fund raising. Missionaries who are expected to raise their own support often view it as a necessary evil at worst, and an unfortunate inconvenience at best. (Your mileage may vary.)
Included in the effort to raise funds is the desire to solicit prayer support. We expect those who invest their dollars to care enough to invest their prayers as well. But sometimes the idea that comes across is, “If you can’t afford to give money, at least you could pray.”
These scenarios do not depict biblical partnership.
Although we in North America talk much about partnership, in reality we’re talking about sponsorship.*
What we are really trying to garner is support. Sponsorship. We offer to go and do the work if others will offer to pay and pray. While supporters may be truly valued, they are not often treated as true partners. And the idea of living on support—that’s a dicey topic for another day.
We offer people three options for being a part of our team: pray, give, or go. What we should be inviting them to do is pray AND give AND go.
True sending partners will pray as much as those they send. They will give at the same level of sacrifice. They will go in person, when practical, and in spirit elsewise. They share the same vision, the same goals, the same passion.
Partners are joined at the heart.
And what are we doing to actually develop those partners? That’s a topic for tomorrow…
*Ron Blue, quoted in The Sending Church Defined, by Zach Bradley, p. 112
To bring and develop ‘partners’ with us in ministry, means we must communicate effectively with them, inviting them to join us at key points in our ministry journey, and educating them in the issues we face on the field. I’ve just completed a major training program, Dynamic Partnership Development, (DPD) (30+ Modules, 320 pages) that creates an integrated system to help us bring partners aboard our team and keep them their effectively giving, praying, and in some cases, ‘joining us’ in our ministry ventures. http://www.FundTheMinistry.com
One more thing on topic, In our types of ministries over the years, I never found it easy to bring our partners into our ministry—the ‘going’ part. Often you have to create a way to do this—so it’s not necessarily integral to your ministry, but rather set up for the donor’s benefit. Value in that, but it also takes time away from field ministry. Do any of you have ideas on how to bring about effective ‘going’ of your partners?
There are several opportunities for involving partners: 1)invite them to visit 2)invite them to come help with a project 3)train interns who will become full-fledged members of the team on location 4)promote the idea of going with them “in spirit” and provide them with regular, substantive communications (i.e. connect via Skype video) 5)for BAM, schedule consulting visits from partners who have business experience 6)rotate members on location in the field (does not work for all scenarios)
I believe that, often times, the reason people are not that interested in the “going” part is that we have presented the ourselves as the goers and them as those who “stay by the stuff.”