Occasional Paper

Partnership and Collaboration

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Prefatory Note

This Occasional Paper was produced by the Issue Group on this topic at the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization hosted by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in Pattaya, Thailand, 29 September to 5 October, 2004

Statement of intent of the Issue Group participants

When Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, a key element of His prayer in the 17th Chapter of John dealt with “unity.”

This is familiar to all of us. And our inability to fully realize Jesus’ prayer is too. This is why the approach to the Partnership and Collaboration issue group had the following four statements.

  1. The gospel is first Good News of restored relationships. In this context, God considers the restored, open relationship among His people to be the primary sign of His finished work. (John 17:23, Psalm 133, etc.).
  2. The divisions in the Body of Christ are a primary roadblock to seeing major breakthroughs in world evangelization.
  3. The natural tendency of Christian ministries, organizations, institutions, etc. is toward disintegration and fragmentation. As a result, any effort seeking to encourage collaboration must be intentional and pro-active.
  4. Responding to these realities, it is a primary obligation of those committed to world evangelization to find ways to initiate and strengthen partnerships, networks and other forms of cooperation.

In order to fully prepare the participants of the Issue Group and to receive input from others in the Body of Christ who are concerned about this issue, the leaders of Issue Group 9, commissioned an online, web based electronic survey of approximately 100 individuals. It was then around this input of the 80+ respondents that our program in Thailand was built.

When we met in Thailand, there were 63 participants from 24 different countries with 2/3rds of the participants from outside North America. The majority were from key leadership positions within their organization. And more than 50% were from mission agencies. Although most participants had experience with collaborative efforts, there was still a strong desire to learn more about the methodology of “intentionally” forming partnerships. Thus, a high percentage of our time was spent on the basics as well as advanced issues.

Just past the half way point after an open session about the tensions between North/South and East/West in today’s Church, it was evident that these key issues needed to be addressed. Therefore, the focus or the remainder of our time shifted to:

  1. Tensions between the Church of the West/North and the East/South.
    a. It became evident that only the surface was touched and further dialogue was needed.
  2. New Structures in Partnership
    a. Issues here were: Funding the Facilitator, Inter Faith Dialogue in Partnerships; Prayer and Spiritual Capacity; New Trends in the area of Orality, Intra City Partnerships and Functional Partnerships.
  3. Role of the Local Church in Partnerships.
    a. The changing role both structurally and functionally. Communications and understanding play a big role.

At the midway point of the 2004 Forum, the leaders of Issue Group 9 were privileged to announce the new website: www.PowerOfConnecting.net. This website is designed to serve the Body of Christ in the area of collaboration.

The world is a big, complex place. Though the number of those committed to helping God’s people work together is growing, still it often feels like help, information, or encouragement is a long way away. The Power of Connecting website is designed to reduce the distance between members in the Body of Christ who desire to work together.

The web site will help people realize their dreams for effective Kingdom collaboration and foster the emerging movement of partnerships and networks. It will communicate to both the novice who desires to “collaborate” on a basic level and the advanced “collaboration expert” who desires to learn more and link with others who are deeply involved in this movement. The web site will be both a resource/educational tool and facilitator of this movement.


At the conclusion of our time together, two follow-on commitments were made.

  • Task Force: Firstly, there was a Task Force of 10 participants who committed to work on the development of a International Partnership Network. It was determined that the work must not stop in Thailand, but rather we must continue to hone our skills as “partnership facilitators, leaders and promoters” while at the same time growing the sheer numbers of individuals who are committed to working together in the Body of Christ.
  • Company of the Committed: Secondly, the “Company of the Committed” was launched. During the plenary session on the final day, the Lausanne leadership allowed Issue Group 9 to pass out over 1,000 CDs. These CDs contained all of the Issue Group’s materials, an introduction to the web site (www.PowerOfConnecting.net) and an application form for “The Company of The Committed.” There are approximately 200 individuals who agreed to be participants in this group.

In this manner, Issue Group 9 will continue to grow and improve upon the principles of collaboration. Thanks to the Lausanne Organizing Committee and their willingness to bring us together in Thailand, the members of this Issue Group will carry on working together to build the networks, connections, and partnerships which will exemplify the unity which Jesus asked his Father in the 17th Chapter of John.

If you desire more information or wish to be connected to the “Company of The Committed”, please e-mail us at [email protected].


1. Mission oriented “how to”/thematic books on partnership

Bush, Luis and Lorry Lutz. Partnering in Ministry: The Direction of World Evangelism. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1990.

Very highly recommended. This is still one of the best books available on partnership in Christian mission, and serves as a broad, readable introduction to the field of mission cooperation. It covers topics such as Biblical basis, paternalism, accountability, local church partnerships and includes sample working agreements.

Rickett, Daniel. Making Your Partnership Work. Enuimclaw, WA: Winepress Pub. 2002.

Very highly recommended. This is a very readable, highly practical book that is filled with insight and tools that can be adapted easily and applied to your context. Ricketts boils down what it take to make partnership work, and comes up with the following sections: Developing a shared vision; managing (intercultural) relationships; Evaluation-learning-change. Finally, he provides resources to help one evaluate potential fit between partners, to develop a common understanding, and to evaluate the partnership itself. The book is full of checklists help in applying the book to ‘my’ context.

Taylor, William D. ed. Kingdom Partnerships for Synergy in Mission. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library 1994.

The authors deal first with the foundations of partnership, then discuss critical issues such as cultural dynamics, control, and accountability. The final sections deal with the internationalization of mission agencies and various casestudy models of partnership from around the world. Taylor’s conclusion is honest, sincere and penetrating in showing the problems, players and potential of partnership in mission.

Denison, Jack. City Reaching: On the Road to Community Transformation. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library 1999.

A must read for anyone committed to seeing their city reached. It starts by revisiting “God’s vision for the city” and the role of the church in that. It then moves straight into the necessity of “moving from scattered tactics to a comprehensive strategy” through a vision for both strategy and its end (transformation) and “the catalytic power of information.”

2. General “how to” books on inter-organizational partnership

Dent, Stephen M. Partnering Intelligence. Palo-Alto, CA: Davies-Black Pub. 1999.

Very highly recommended. A highly practical book not only the stages of partnership, but also the “what could possibly go wrong?” in the process. He separates task and relationship and makes a four stage continuum of each that makes good intuitive sense. His “Partnership continuum” is probably the most helpful overall as it highlights the very human nature of the process of partnership development.

Austin, James E. The Collaboration Challenge: How non-profits and businesses succeed through strategic alliances. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Pub. 2000.

“In these complex times, when no organization can succeed alone, nonprofits and businesses are embracing collaboration for mutual benefits. Nonprofits are partnering with businesses to further their missions, develop resources, strengthen programs, and thrive in the competitive world.” The final chapter of the book contains a complete framework for collaboration that seems universally applicable to any partnership. These “Seven C’s of Collaboration” include Connection with Purpose and People, Clarity of Purpose, Congruency of Mission, Creation of Value, Communication Between Partners, Continual Learning, and Commitment to the Partnership.”

Lipnack, Jessica and J. Stamps. 1994 The Age of the Network: Organizing Principles for the 21st Century. Essex Junction, VT: Oliver Wright Pub. 1994.
Virtual Teams: People Working Across Boundaries Using Technology. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons Inc. 2000.

The first book is a very good introduction to how one can prepare their ministry for a collaborative approach. It is definitely management oriented, but assumes an ideal of a ‘flat’ organization as opposed to manipulative or hierarchical. It is an excellent and usable introduction to make your ministry integrate more effectively with others. The second book addresses how to make virtual teams work. In the age of email, teleconferencing, etc, it seems that it would be fairly straight forward to just have virtual rather than face-to-face meetings. The reality is however, that it is just not that simple. Excellent for anyone trying to make widely distributed teams work in ministry.

3. Negotiation skills:

Karrass, Chester L. In business as in life You don’t get what you deserve, You Get what You Negotiate. Los Angeles, CA: Stanford Street Press. 1996

Very highly recommended. Probably one of the most practical, readable books on negotiation. This is not written from a Christian viewpoint and is written from a definite Western business viewpoint but is filled with extremely practical, useable ideas on reaching a “win-win” conclusion. The book should be taken as a tool and used respective of Christian values. Once some of these strategies are understood, it will be easier to identify both constructive and negative tendencies within a partnership and to move decision-making toward a more constructive conclusion.

Fisher, Robert and W. Ury. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without giving in. New York, NY: Penguin Books. 1983
________________. Getting Together: Building relationships as we Negotiate. New York, NY: Penguin Books 1988

These books are written with a view to transforming locked battles of the wills into “hard-headed problem solving.” The first book deals mainly with very practical issues related to conflict transformation such as separating people from problem, interests from positions, developing creative options, and a variety of “But, what if…” situations. The second book is decidedly the more humanrelational side to negotiation and seeks to mark the way to relational development in the midst of negotiation. They deal with factors such as emotion, perspectives, communication, reliability and influence.

4. Understanding the human side of partnership dynamics

Augsburger, David. Conflict Mediation Across Cultures. Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox Press. 1992

This is one of the best books available for what Augsburger emphatically labels “Conflict transformation” (as opposed to conflict management of resolution). Beginning with an introduction to the subject of conflict as a universal, cultural and personal reality, he then moves into the basics of conflict as a creative versus destructive process. The remainder of the book covers specific cross-cultural issues such as face, anger and gender differences together with topics such as mediation and reconciliation

5. Developing Trust

Lewis, Jordan D. Trusted Partners.: How companies Build Trust and Win Together. New York, NY: The Free Press. 1999.

Very highly recommended. This is an excellent book on the very human dynamic of trust… or lack thereof. “Lewis beings by establishing eight conditions for trust and shows how to determine if trust is possible. He then details:

  • How to build, manage and repair trust
  • How to trust difficult people
  • How to ‘sell’ the idea of alliances to stakeholders
  • How to trust a rival
  • How to build trust between internal groups
  • How to create a culture of trust in organizations, alliances and even mergers
  • How to measure trust


Mr. Kenny Ahn, USA

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