Partnering Well

rope-partnership

Shelley Ginger on Flickr

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.