by Daniel Rickett
We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in missions. It is now neither possible nor desirable for mission agencies to control their people and institutions.
WinePress Publishing, P.O. Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 2002, 165 pages, $14.95.
—Reviewed by Jim Tebbe, director, Urbana 2003, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in missions. It is now neither possible nor desirable for mission agencies to control their people and institutions. Working with other Christians is not just expedient, it is biblical and necessary for effective ministry. Making Your Partnership Work addresses this changing scene in missions with a biblical foundation and practical information that is grounded in both broad experience and academic study.
Rickett begins by defining various types of working relationships. He then explains partnership and the three key ingredients every partnership needs to succeed. Not surprisingly they are vision, relationship and results. But the simple outline belies the depth of understanding that is immediately obvious as one begins to read.
Vision includes what is a shared vision—and what is not shared vision. Rickett explains what factors are likely to bind a partnership together and those that are likely to pull it apart. He tackles potential pitfalls in laying ground rules for working together. In the relationship section there is a clear sensitivity to cultural issues—probably the single most feared component that non-Americans have toward Americans when it comes to working together. Rickett is well aware of the American context out of which he writes and he demonstrates cultural sensitivity by identifying his own bias. In the third section, Results, the author’s emphasis on the constantly changing nature of any partnership is but one of several insights that distances this book from simplistic answers.
What seems to be missing is any guidance on appropriate external input into the formation and evaluation of a partnership relationship. In forming a partnership, what other existing relationships are there that might be affected by this new relationship? Do others in the country perceive the success of the partnership in the same way the participants do? Rickett cites a successful partnership with Chris Marantika of Indonesia (p. 31). I heard Chris speak about this partnership to 450 delegates at an Evangelical Fellowship of Asia conference in Thailand, October 2001. Some Asian delegates strenuously challenged the model (but not the results) that he presented. This book would be stronger if it gave some guidance on how to hear and filter this “outside” input.
Rickett’s book is ground-breaking and is a must read for anyone working cross-culturally with Christians from organizations other than their own, which should be all of us in missions today.
Check these titles:
Taylor, William, ed. 1994. Kingdom Partnerships for Synergy in Missions (WEF). Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.
Bush, Luis and L. Lutz. 1990. Partnering in Ministry: The Direction of World Evangelism. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
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