by Ellen Livingood
Catalyst Services, P.O. Box 152, Newtown, PA 18940, 214 + 108 pages, 2010, $19.99 ($9.99 implementation guide).
—Reviewed by Cindy Judge, global outreach staff member, Wheaton Bible Church, West Chicago, Ill.; author of short-term missions study Prepare Your Heart.
When I find a practical workbook like this one that is full of best practices, case studies, and steps to success for both mission agencies and churches to partner in kingdom work, I want to get it into the hands of all those trying to reinvent the wheel. There are many churches working hard to invent a partnership wheel, only to realize their wheel won’t do well when it hits the bumps in the road.
This workbook and companion implementation guide is chock full of many years’ worth of partnership experience. The stories of twenty different U.S. churches doing partnership are woven throughout the chapters. Almost any church of any size can identify with one of the models.
According to the author, a FOCUS
…is the result of a church’s decision to take a proactive approach to global missions by selecting one global initiative (or a very limited number) on which they will concentrate their missions resources. Instead of trying to give equal time and effort to lots of different efforts, these churches ask God to show them the priority task He has uniquely designed them to accomplish in reaching the world. While they may be involved in multiple missionaries and work around the globe, they intentionally invest major energy into this one priority. (p. 35)
Connecting brothers and sisters around the world, infusing mission passion into entire congregations (not just the few), involving younger generations, using the congregations’ skills and interests, increasing prayer and giving, and making a strategic impact over a sustained number of years are the objectives for growing a strong partnership.
Your Focus on the World is divided into three sections: (1) discovering your mission potential by identifying passions, setting priorities, and maximizing opportunities; (2) selecting the right global partners by developing in-depth relationships with visionary national leaders, bridge-building missionaries, other strategic connections; and (3) implementing a successful initiative by developing leaders; involving a whole congregation; making it reciprocal, sustainable, and accountable; and networking with other partners.
Four gateways are suggested as a church chooses its direction for partnership: (1) adopting-a-project focus (e.g., working with children at risk in a large city); (2) the missionary-centered focus (e.g., connecting with a missionary who is willing to take on a facilitator role for a mutually decided-upon vision); (3) the people/place focus (e.g., unreached people group); or (4) the sister church focus (e.g., a church-to-church relationship).
The week I was reviewing this book, I was doing two things: consulting with a church about how to re-energize its mission emphasis and evaluating our own church-wide partnership. Because of this thoughtful and thorough book, I had new insights and understandings of the Church in America today. I was able to share best practices of building a quality partnership and helpful tips on how to kick-start a new era of mission fervor in the local church among those with whom I met. I highly recommend this resource for church and mission leaders.
EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 509-510. Copyright © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.