Many times it seems that as leaders we are completely convinced our way of doing things – reaching a people group, addressing an issue, developing materials and resources, etc. – is the best and, frankly, the only way. And, honestly, if people would just get on board with our plan, we could make so much more progress in sharing Christ and meeting needs.
So we move forward aggressively with little thought to the message we’re sending to those around us – that, really, they just need to become a part of our ministry, or our church, or give us funding, because we’ve got it all figured out.
While God clearly gifts people with unique and compelling plans and ideas, he also confirms ideas and plans though an expression of unity among his followers. In fact, Jesus prayed that our unity as believers would be an outward demonstration to the world that God had sent Christ (John 17).
When you think about partnership, is it, “join with me” or “let’s work together”?
In this month’s focus on The Cape Town Commitment and Partnership, I was struck by the opening paragraph of Karin Butler Primuth’s lead article about a recent meeting of younger leaders in the Middle East. She writes, “They came together to learn about partnership because they know that the dreams God has put on their hearts are far too big for just one ministry or organization to accomplish by itself.”
In responding to Karin’s article, Alex Araujo, from United World Mission, emphasizes the importance of focusing on those things that bring us together, rather than on those things that divide us. He says when we focus on the ways in which we disagree, “we present an ugly and cut up Body of Christ to the world, disjointed and separated body parts contending with each other for attention, not noticing how ugly we look to a dying world.”
Scott White, Pastor of Global Outreach at Lake Avenue Church in California, reminds us that learning to partner is a spiritual battle and when we forget this, “we appeal to our own sense of self-import, fall victim to inflated opinions of our organization’s role and subsequently, the criticality of ‘our’ plan being in place in order for the missio dei to succeed.”
I was privileged to work with Dr. Paul Cedar, Chairman of The Mission America Coalition (the U.S. Lausanne Movement) for a number of years. One of the phrases he used often in convening leaders in America was that they should be ready to “check their egos and their logos at the door.” Egos, because pride and self-sufficiency can get in the way of working together, and logos, because God is the leader and he’s the one that should receive honor and glory.
The Cape Town Commitment focuses on the importance of partnership in our witness to the world.
“A divided Church has no message for a divided world. Our failure to live in reconciled unity is a major obstacle to authenticity and effectiveness in mission.” Part 2, Section IIF, 1
The Commitment goes on to urge Christians to cultivate a spirit of grace, “to be obedient to Paul’s command to ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,’” and to seek reconciliation and unity with other believers wherever possible. Part 2, Section IIF, 1
Join the Conversion on the topic of partnership this month by sharing your ideas and examples of partnerships in which you’re involved.
May God be glorified as we seek effective, creative ways to work together so that many more people will see Christ is us, the hope of glory!
Additional articles, resources and videos will be shared in the next few weeks as a part of our focus on Partnership. See below for the full list of resources as they are added throughout the month.
Week 1: Partnership and Younger Leaders
Partnership from the Perspective of Younger Leaders - Kärin Butler Primuth
Week 2: Developing Partnership
Week 3: Foundations
Week 5: Final Thoughts