by Phill Butler
Powerful global forces are motivating organizations of many kinds to bridge traditional barriers by attempting new partnerships and alliances. But uncertainties and risks abound. Can these new arrangements really achieve the desired synergies and efficiencies?
Authentic Media, 129 Mobilization Drive, Waynesboro, GA 30830, 2006, 332 pages, $19.99.
—Reviewed by Benjamin Paul Dean, director of global partnerships, Pioneers, Orlando, Florida.
Powerful global forces are motivating organizations of many kinds to bridge traditional barriers by attempting new partnerships and alliances. But uncertainties and risks abound. Can these new arrangements really achieve the desired synergies and efficiencies? Are we experiencing, as author Phill Butler contends, a broad “global partnership movement” overtaking us from behind? In Well Connected, Butler galvanizes the will to explore partnerships as solutions and delivers essential tools to begin building these new bridges.
“Well connected” encompasses a dual meaning. First, the book’s subject is far broader than the subtitle’s reference to partnerships suggests. Second, the author himself is well-connected, as evidenced by pages of endorsements from persons prominent within the sphere of Christian ministries. Butler’s key role in creating some widely respected ministry partnerships rightly affords weight to this book.
The book’s best contributions emerge in two aspects. First, it uses scripture to show how believers in Jesus can display the gospel’s life-changing power by committing to open, trusting relationships. Second, it articulates the practical purposes and processes of building effective ministry partnerships.
Given its breadth, Well Connected could easily stand as two books. After the first six chapters’ nearly incidental references to partnerships, the reader might question “What is this book really about?” Butler even anticipates the reader by stopping to ask rhetorically how his discourse should relate to partnerships. The initial chapters are actually about God’s design for healthy relationships in Christian community. Butler concentrates on the biblical mandate and spiritual inspiration for cooperating in kingdom work. The personalized anecdotes and multiple references to his years of “field experience” give an impression that this is a memoir of how Butler became passionate about building ministry relationships.
Later chapters describe the mechanics of developing partnerships through three progressive stages—exploration, formation and operation. Butler’s principles are logical and convincing, although he expressly grounds them on his personal experience more than on the research in organizational development. He gives the concept of partnership the broadest possible scope. He then draws lines to distinguish among partnerships, networks, strategic alliances and four more “structures for collaboration.” The structural distinctions soon collapse back into the catch-all shorthand of “good collaborative ministry” and “strategic kingdom collaboration.”
Well Connected serves best as a reference handbook on the progressive stages of ministry partnership development. It lacks a subject index, but contains helpful lists of existing networks and Internet resources. Other useful tools include planning forms, summary lists and a short annotated bibliography.
Check these titles:
Ricketts, Daniel. 2002. Making Your Partnership Work. Enumclaw, Wash.: WinePress Publishing.
Shaw, Robert B. 1997. Trust in the Balance: Building Successful Organizations on Results, Integrity, and Concern. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.
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