The Beauty of Partnership Study Guide (Standard Edition)
by Werner Mischke, designer/editor
Mission One, Inc., P.O. Box 5960, Scottsdale, AZ 85261, 212 pages, 2011, $29.95 (free DVD discussion guide).
—Reviewed by Todd Poulter, consultant with Wycliffe Global Alliance, International Partnering Associates, and Mission to Unreached Peoples.
Start with a worthy goal: equipping followers of Jesus Christ for healthy cross-cultural partnerships. Select your audience: “ordinary people who want to be part of the greatest story on earth.” (Think primarily North Americans.) Then create a resource to make that possible: The Beauty of Partnership Study Guide.
Building on Mission One’s experience in this area, Werner Mischke has poured his heart into this study guide, pulling together valuable resources to help individuals and agencies learn how to partner well, even if they have had no previous experience.
This guide has a number of strengths. First, it is a simple, clear partnering model. Three core themes are tied to three key questions: (1) godly character: what is the bedrock for beauty in partnerships? (2) cultural intelligence: what does cultural intelligence mean for partnership? and (3) organizational competence: what does competence mean for partnerships?
Second, it is compact and well-organized and includes a study guide, background reading, short videos, and guided small group discussions (recommended). Mischke makes a serious effort to do an almost impossible task—turn a printed study guide into a resource that utilizes adult learning methodology. Well-chosen background resources take up two-thirds of the study guide itself. Topics include cross-cultural partnership and servanthood, trust, cultural intelligence, partnering documentation, and appreciative inquiry, etc. Even experienced cross-cultural workers could benefit from this material.
There are also a number of concerns. First, the model assumes a fairly simple, limited set of partners (e.g., a Western mission agency, a Majority World ministry, a local church), with an advocate who champions and facilitates the process. In more complex partnering contexts, additional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and relationships are required that go beyond the scope of an introductory study guide like this.
Second, since this resource targets North Americans (Mission One’s primary audience), there seems to be a corresponding, and probably unintended, assumption that North Americans are likely to be the partnering advocates and the ones ensuring accountability. This is reinforced by the unfortunate choice of picture on the front cover—a hut filled with African men listening to the one white person in the group. This doesn’t reflect the positive spirit of mutuality and listening that permeates the study guide.
Mischke closes by inviting feedback from readers, modeling a willingness to keep listening and learning—two critical qualities for an effective partner practitioner. The study guide may be a completed product, but the learning process continues for Mission One.
EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 114-115. Copyright © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.