Joshua Kienzle has been serving at Food for the Hungry for the past eight years, working mainly in the area of Church Engagement. He is passionate about seeing churches find meaningful and healthy ways to engage their church body and impact vulnerable communities with the fullness of the Gospel. The following are notes I took during his talk called, “The Variables that Make for a Healthy Church Partnership in a Cross-Cultural Setting.”
It’s easy for partnerships to be based on friendships or existing relationships but that shouldn’t be the single qualifier for a healthy partnership, it is rarely the strongest indicator of future success. Just because you like someone doesn’t mean a partnership will be healthy.
First questions to ask a potential partner:
What is your vision? What are your passions? If these things don’t line up with your vision and passions, it is just a matter of time until the partnership falls apart.
Partnerships must be based on scripture.
You must be able to clearly see an alignment of vision, mission, and passion.
Equally as important as vision, mission, and passion is mutual trust.
Create goals, accountability, and expectations as early on in the process as possible.
Pre-determine communication patterns and expectations. For example, an international partner may like to pray a lot during what an American partner perceives as a logistics meeting. From the American perspective, you feel like you didn’t get anything done. From the international partner perspective, you feel like prayer is not a priority of your partner.
Determine a duration of partnership up front. Start small and slowly extend the time limits with each “duration” conversation. At least make sure you are having this conversation on the front end, because on the back end it’s always harder.
There needs to be mutual transformation. Clearly communicate how you are each measuring transformation and make sure there is a way to share those stories back and forth across the partnership.
Don’t forget about maintenance and oversight – who owns this partnership?
Some things to remember:
Transitions – People will change, organizations will change, churches will change, the world will change… make sure you’re aware of changes and try to stay in front of them.
Universal Depravity – Everyone will make mistakes, make sure you are aware of them and that you try to stay in front of them.
Celebrate – It’s extremely important in trust building to celebrate “wins” together when they happen.
Below is the “pyramid of partnerships” that can be followed to ensure a healthy partnership.
Lastly, he passed out a copy of the latest Lausanne Standards (affirmations and agreements for giving and receiving money in missions). These are a very helpful starting place for creating partnerships if money will be exchanged.