by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
Our focus in this article is how international mission agencies can work together in functional collaborative partnerships.
"But in a global society, in which timely information is the most important commodity, collaboration is not simply desirable, it is inevitable."
Obviously "partnership" is an in word. It seems everyone is (or at least says they are) doing partnership. And of course partnership means different things to different people, even within the evangelical missions context. Our focus in this article is how international mission agencies can work together in functional collaborative partnerships. Here, and in the associated MisLinks section on the Web (www.mislinks.org/practical/ partner.htm), we try to give you access to Web-based information, perspective and resources on collaborative partnership.
As always, a good search engine such as Google (www.google.com), AltaVista (www. altavista.com), or Northern Light (www.nlsearch.com) can be of great help in beginning your search for Web resources. Searching for "partnership, " however, quickly reminds us how easily the Web can overwhelm us with unhelpful information; you get thousands of hits for books on forming a legal partnership and for organizations whose formal name includes the word partnership.
We get better results searching for a more descriptive phrase such as "collaborative partnership." AltaVista finds over 4,000 hits for collaborative partnership. Google finds over 9,000 sites. Northern Light gives over 12,000 hits, including a wealth of training resources and case studies in their Special Collections. There is not much here explicitly about mission agencies, but you can learn invaluable lessons in the "how-to" of collaboration from leaders in education, government, non-profit and commercial partnerships.
Don’t neglect searching Amazon (www.amazon.com) for books on the topic. Searching for "partnership" resulted in nearly 2,000 titles; searching for "collaboration" resulted in over 800 books.
PAPERS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS
But let’s turn now to explicitly missions resources on the Web. Partners International, the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, Interdev and the US Center for World Mission have been among the most prolific on the subject of working together.
Interdev has prepared an excellent introduction to the topic in "The Power of Partnerships: Working Together to Reach the Unreached" (www.ad2000.org/adoption/Coop/ Partner/PidMenu.htm). See the article on "Partnership in the Lausanne Covenant" (www.gospelcom.net/lcwe/ wemag/9609phill2.html) by Interdev International Director, Phill Butler. A couple years ago, Mission Frontiers printed an insightful interview with Butler, entitled "Diplomatic Savvy for the Sake of the Unreached" (www. missionfrontiers. org/1999/10/ phill htm). In the same issue is a practical article by Interdev’s Brian O’Connell on the role of a partnership facilitator (www. Mission frontiers.org/1999/10/role.htm).
The October 1999 issue of Mission Frontiers focused on strategic partnerships. Their online version (www. missionfrontiers.org/1999/10/ contents.htm) includes an article on "Strategic Resource Partnerships" (www.missionfrontiers.org/1999/10/ resource.htm) by Gary Edmonds; an interview with a partnership facilitator for the North Caucasus region (www. missionfrontiers.org/1999/10/ brent.htm); and a case study about partnership in Albania entitled "The Synergy of Partnership" (www. missionfrontiers.org/1999/10/ albania.htm).
Not surprisingly, the AD2000 & Beyond Movement-their headquarters is now officially closed but their Web site is still online-provides some great materials on international missions partnership. For instance, start with their Networking Menu at www.ad2000.org/adoption/Coop/. Read excerpts from the book Partnership: The New Direction in World Evangelism by Lorry Lutz and Luis Bush at www.ad2000.org/adoption/Coop/ FullDoc/FPpart.htm. You’ll also find an article by the AD2000 Partnership Task Force at the GCOWE 95 conference entitled "Partnerships Everywhere" (www.ad2000.org/gcowe 95/ partners.html), a model of church/ agency partnership (www.ad2000. or g/ adoption/Coop/Partner/ PChAgy.htm) and an article by Corky Haan on being a partnership facilitator (www.ad2000.org/adoption/ Resrc/Rfacil.htm).
Take a look at the Partnering Resources offered by Partners International at www.partnersintl.org/ partnering/welcome.html. One of the resources there is the great new book by Daniel Rickett (their Director of Partner Development and Strategy), Building Strategic Relationships: A Practical Guide to Partnering with Non-Western Missions. You might also want to read an excellent paper by Rickett on capacity development, assessment and partnership between Western and non-Western agencies (www.gmi.org/ research/capbuild.htm).
While there are numerous other books and papers on the Web, we only have room to mention one more. The work by Mark Elliott and Anita Deyneka on "Protestant Missionaries In The Former Soviet Union" (www.law.emory.edu/EILR/volumes/win98/elliott.html) offers valuable perspective and insight for evangelical missions seeking to work collaboratively with the church in eastern Europe.
While many agencies are engaged in partnership these days, a few mission agencies and international organizations specialize in facilitating missions collaboration.
We’ve already mentioned several of the leading players. At AD2000’s Partnerships Menu (www.ad2000. org/adoption/Coop/Partner/ Index.htm) you’ll find resources focused on reaching unreached people groups. Their material on People Specific Networks (www.ad2000.org/ adoption/Co op/NetPeoSp/ Index.htm) is well done.
Partners International has a good Web site (www.partnersintl.org) focused on collaborating with non-western churches and agencies. For additional information on the process of partnering, see the page devoted to Partners International on AD2000’s site (www.ad2000.org/adoption/ Coop/Partner/PNmenu.htm). You can find there a "Sample Cooperation Agreement" (between Partners International and a field ministry) which has much wisdom to offer all involved in partnering internationally.
Fostering partnership between diverse ministries focused on evangelism in a specific region or people group is the strength of Interdev. As of this writing, they do not have a Web site, but look for it later this year at www.interdev.org.
Several organizations offer collaborative Internet solutions for missions. The Network for Strategic Missions (www.strategicnetwork.org) is at the forefront of innovative Web collaboration. Their sophisticated design enables people from many organizations to contribute together in specialized online mission communities (Regional Networks, Country Networks, People Group Networks, Issue Forums and Strategic Networks) as well as in a tremendous collection of searchable knowledge bases. The Gospel Communications International site (www.gospelcom.net) is a great example of partnership on the Web, providing free Web hosting for Christian ministries. Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf.org) enables international mission collaboration via a variety of Internet-based e-mail and electronic communications services to the remotest parts of the world.
World by Radio (www.gospelcom.net/wbradio) facilitates an official and very functional partnership between the major missionary radio ministries. Also see their article "A Model for Ministry Networking" (www.ad2000. org/adoption/Coop/NetRadio/ Index.htm).
Dawn Ministries (www.dawn ministries.org) has been quite successful at bringing top-level church leaders together in a nation to work collaboratively in saturation church planting. They are part of The Alliance for Saturation Church Planting (www.alliancescp.org), "a partnership of "more than 50 churches and international mission agencies setting aside their own philosophical differences and joining hands to help start new churches in the 27 countries that were previously controlled or influenced by the former Soviet Union."
The Next Step North American Partnership in Mission Training (www.thenextstep.org) is "a working partnership of evangelical North American churches, mission agencies, mission trainers and mission mobilizers who are committed to equipping Christian workers in the areas of character, ministry skills and knowledge for effective cross-cultural ministry."
The Member Care Task Force of World Evangelical Fellowship’s Missions Commission has done good collaborative work in helping agencies address critical needs in this area. Their Web site (www.membercare. org) offers helpful resources.
Antioch Network (www.antioch network.org) is "an organization which serves a growing fellowship of local churches who are interacting with the challenge of sending church planting teams to unreached peoples."
ASSOCIATIONS AND NETWORKS
There are some key missions networks and professional associations that, while not dedicated solely to partnership development, provide an unusually helpful context and frequent opportunities for functional missions partnerships to develop and thrive.
AERDO, the Association of Evangelical Relief & Development Organizations (www.aerdo.org) has much to teach us in the area of collaboration. Their Principles of Practice (www. aerdo.org/principles.htm) provides time-tested guidelines and their Occasional Paper Series (www.aerdo.org/ occasion.htm) discusses critical issues in relief and development.
Accelerating International Mission Strategies (AIMS) focuses on the "adoption of unreached people groups and building strategic alliances to target regions and peoples." See their Web site at www.aims.org and also the AIMS material on AD2000’s site (www.ad2000.org/adoption/ Coop/NetAIMS/Index.htm).
IFMA, an association of faith mission agencies, offers a combined set of mission opportunities, links to member agencies, news and information on training conferences at their site (www.ifmamissions.org). Fellowship of Missions, "a mission fellowship serving independent local churches in North America" provides news and links to member agencies at their site (www.fellowshipofmissions.org). EFMA facilitates mission collaboration among its membership, which includes numerous evangelical denominational agencies, but does not currently have a Web site.
The Evangelical Missiological Society (www.missiology.org/ems) has a spedal focus on serving missions professors.
Increasingly, collaboration is becoming a reality on the donor side of missions, as well. For instance, First Fruit, Inc. (www.firstfruit.org) is spearheading an innovative partnership among grant-making foundations committed to supporting evangelical leadership development in India. The newly established Geneva Global Research, "a link between donors in prosperous countries and effective practitioners in troubled communities" is planning a collaborative Web site to enable donors to "invest wisely and confidently" in mission work around the world.
Looking toward the future. Today both traditional industries and the new "dot corns"—as well as some educational and non-profit initiatives—are investing heavily in Internet-based collaboration, under such names as B2B (business-to-business) and "C-Commerce" (collaborative commerce) applications. Notice how competitors are learning to cooperate in openly transparent operations, and we think you’ll see hope for substantially greater missions partnership in the days to come.
For instance, in the education field, take a look at the slide show "Collaborative Portals for Education and Computing" (new-npac.csit.fsu.edu/users/fox/presentations/pajavaaprilOO/sldOOl.htm) from Florida State University. Or read about CoVia’s Information Portal (www. covia.com/Press/infoportal4PR.html), a collaborative e-commerce solution. Advanced Data eXchange (www.adx.com) makes B2B possible for the "little guys" which makes it interesting for ministry crossover applications. And CommerceNet (www. commerce.net) is a non-profit industry association for companies promoting and building electronic commerce solutions on the Internet, with over 500 companies "transforming the Internet into a global electronic marketplace."
We keep hearing "the Internet changes everything." It certainly changes the factors of time and distance, making possible various kinds of working relationships not previously possible. When it comes to collaboration in international missions work, we hope the best is yet to come. Jon Gregson’s article "Ready for e-mission?" in the October-November 2000 issue of Yes magazine (Church Mission Society) provides an encouraging look to the future (www.cms-uk.org/e-mission_print.htm). Perhaps new virtual tools will revolutionize our real ability to work together, transforming the Internet into a global missions partnership.
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and chair of Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu and the Wheaton Missions Department web address is www.wheaton.edu/intr
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org
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