by Daniel Rickett
Daniel Rickett examines partnerships between Western churches and their international counterparts.
Partners International/WinePress Publishing, P.O. Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022. 2003. 92 pages, $9.95.
—Reviewed by Casely B. Essamuah, minister of missions, Park Street Church, Boston, Mass.
While the message of new life in Jesus Christ is unchanging, in our dynamic world the practice of missions should often be reevaluated. In his book, Daniel Rickett examines partnerships between Western churches and their international counterparts. A partnership, according to Rickett, is “a complementary relationship driven by a common purpose and sustained by a willingness to learn and grow together in obedience to God” (p.13). In short, partnerships are an attempt by Christians to relate to Christians from other cultural contexts according to the dictates of the New Testament: by sharing resources, building capacity, and enabling development, all with a view of expanding the kingdom of Christ.
Because our understanding of this simple truth differs among cultures, we need formal ways of developing and monitoring these partnerships and for that Rickett comes to the rescue. Building Strategic Relationships presents ways to initiate and maintain partnerships with transparency and trust. Rickett’s user-friendly approach and checklists alone are worth the price of the book. Starting from the need to ensure doctrinal compatibility, Rickett builds on the three-fold web of results, relationship, and vision, encapsulated in his earlier book, Making your Partnership Work. In fact, these two volumes should be placed side by side. Maybe a later edition could combine both in one volume.
Rickett helps in a realistic assessment of dependency and ways to enhance interdependence. Based on solid biblical teaching on giving and receiving, Rickett spices the books with nuggets of practical experience from around the world, on what has and has not worked. He compellingly suggests that the ultimate aim of partnerships is to build capacity by helping people do what they want to do but without long-term assistance from outside. One of the aphorisms that will stay with me: have an exit plan before you start.
There are two tenets that Rickett expounds in his book, albeit in a minor way, that need further reflection. It is difficult to accept the usual Western missionary’s insistence that paying locally employed people “expatriate salaries” would create jealousies. As a minister of missions in a Western church, I don’t ever recall any potential missionary indicating they want to halve their support because it is way beyond the average African’s income.
Secondly, Rickett argues against a “one-size-fits-all” approach to partnerships, which I agree with in principle. But what about a church with several partnerships around the globe? How do you maintain equity without ensuring some uniformity in tenure, finance, visits, etc.? Undoubtedly, these are minor differences of opinion with a very well written guide for all who are serious about having healthy international Christian partnerships.
Check these titles:
Rickett , Daniel. 2002. Making Your Partnership Work. Enumclaw, Wash.: Partners International/WinePress Publishing.
Kraakevik, James H. and Dotsey Welliver, eds.1992. Partners in the Gospel: The Strategic Role of Partnership in World Evangelization. Wheaton, Ill.: Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College.
Elmer, Duane. 2002. Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting in Around the World. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
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