Partnership vs Sponsorship
Yesterday we started a discussion about the paradigm in which we conduct missions, missions fundraising, and missionary care. It was prompted by this quote from Ron Blue:
Although we in North America talk much about partnership, in reality we’re talking about sponsorship.*
So what exactly is the difference between the two? And why does it make any difference? Let’s start with some definitions.
Partnership: A relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal.
Sponsorship: One that finances a project, event, or organization directed by another person or group, such as a business enterprise that pays for radio or television programming in return for advertising time.**
Did you notice the primary characteristics of each?
- Mutual cooperation
- Mutual responsibility
- Achievement of a mutual goal
- Finances (funds) the work
- Work directed (and carried out) by someone else
Partnership means that everyone has “skin in the game.” Responsibilities may be divvied up, but every partner has a vital and strategic role. And every partner has a clear understanding of the common goal, along with a desire to see it reached. Community is critical to success of the project. Every member must do their part if the goal is to be reached.
Sponsorship is detached. While a sponsor may show deeper interest in the project, he is not required to. As long as he continues to provide the funding the project has the potential (supposedly) to move forward. He is not usually involved in the forming of strategy or implementation of plans. He is a vicarious participant, at best, while the one sponsored carries the real responsibility for achieving the goal. This reduces missions to a spectator sport.
The Great Mission was given to the Church. I don’t believe that vicarious involvement was in God’s mind when he issued it. More on that next week.
In the mean time, what do you think? Which of these two paradigms would you say describes the current primary approach to missions?
*Ron Blue, quoted in The Sending Church Defined, by Zach Bradley, p. 112