Partnering Well

I am often asked about how ministries can partner with other ministries for the sake of greater effectiveness. This is a critical leadership question. How does one effectively partner in a way that does not take away from an organization’s calling but actually maximizes the mission of both groups individually, and the kingdom in general?

As I have considered this I have come up with three levels of partnering that I think are a valid way to view the possibilities.

Blessing:
This is the most basic level and should have the broadest application. This is the level where we recognize the legitimacy of a ministry organization and can rightly bless them with our words and actions, even though we might not agree with every doctrinal position or ministry practice. It means that we speak well of them, recommend them to those who might best fit within their ministry context, and pray for them and their ministry success. Personally, I have experienced this level of partnering everywhere I have had the privilege of ministering. While I might not have agreed with a particular ministry right down the line, I saw where their overall commitment was the same as ours–to love Christ and to make Him known. We agreed on the major doctrines of the faith even as we disagreed on the minor ones. Therefore I could “bless” them.

Cooperation:
This encompasses a deeper level of partnering. It includes the sharing and pooling of resources for a particular ministry effort or strategy. Usually this is only for a season or a particular event. By sharing and pooling resources a larger impact is possible than if each organization worked alone. The purpose is not to lose either organization’s true identity–but to simply cooperate for a greater good in the short run. This might occur many times over the life of a ministry in a given location. I have seen several expressions of this during my ministry years, whether for an evangelistic event or a concert of prayer. There was a mutual benefit and a greater result than if we had not cooperated in that way.

Collaboration:
This level involves the ongoing sharing and pooling of resources for a sustained synergistic effort and result. It recognizes what each organization brings to the table and realizes that the two organizations or ministries are better together than apart. I saw this with our Campus Crusade ministry in Florence, Italy. Our campus ministry team is joined hands with a local church to form something completely new. The hoped for end result is to see even more trained laborers on the campus who are equipped and confident in communicating their faith. This is the highest level of partnership and must be entered into carefully and prayerfully. There should be mutually agreed upon values and goals–and again, the true sharing of resources for the kingdom’s sake.

I am convinced that most organizations can partner better and more broadly. Leaders must lead the way with a spirit of generosity and boldness for a greater good. And good partnering always begins with great relationships.

7 replies
  1. Ali Enos
    Ali Enos says:

    Oh Gary, how I wish I could pick your brain in this topic someday! Partnership with a church here at LSU has caused me to grow in areas I didn’t even know I needed to grow in! And, it’s been super challenging at times. I do think you hit the nail on the head when you said that in the collaboration stage you must agree on the values and goals. At the same time, do you think can agree on values and goals in the beginning and as you grow and visions increase you don’t agree or don’t fully agree on your goals?
    Congrats on the Bama win over Florida. Y’all looked good and I’m already nervous for November 6th!

    Reply
    • garunn
      garunn says:

      Ali-thanks for your comments-I do think a partnership remains dynamic-always changing-therefore I think there has to be really good ongoing communication-and there may come a time where the partnership changes forms again-at the end of the day partnerships are also very, very dependent on relationship.

      Reply
  2. Tim Casteel
    Tim Casteel says:

    Very helpful explanation. I forwarded this post on to the other campus ministers on our campus. We pray together as campus ministers on a weekly basis and many of us wrestle with the question you posed: “How does one effectively partner in a way that does not take away from an organization’s calling and actually maximizes the mission of both groups individually and the kingdom in general?”

    Reply
    • garunn
      garunn says:

      Thanks Tim for your comments-I hope it can be of benefit to the others-it is always a little challenging to partner well-it so depends on relationship too.

      Reply
  3. Joshua Nador
    Joshua Nador says:

    I have experienced that shared vision and common values are the most important factors of successful collaborations. Too many great endeavors do not succeed because leaders vision and values were so far apart even though there seem to be a common purpose. It is also sad that some people mistake partnership for alliances. I think of alliances like Herod and Puntius Pilate becoming friends when it came to killing Jesus. It was just for a purpose even though they didn’t like each other. Partnership must be beyond that. It must grow out of a relationship of trust and respect, where we believe each other and are committed to increasing our capacity to fulfill our God-given mission and vision.

    Reply

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