Networking and Nationals
The Third Paradigm in Missions
New Hope International, 2002,101 pp.
Paulson is founder of New Hope International (formerly Eastern European Bible Mission). Since the end of the Cold War they have worked with more than one hundred national staff members in six countries of Central and Eastern Europe. New Hope comes alongside existing churches, equipping and assisting them with a focus on children, youth, and family, increasingly with an emphasis on outreach.
Because the book is about the work of New Hope, with an emphasis on its ten years of work in Romania, it is difficult to escape the notion that it is primarily promotional. However, the model gives rise to a number of important principles and practices.
As I understand it, New Hope goes into a country and employs—or partners with—mature, dedicated national believers; works with them to develop a strategy for their situation; and brings in North American agencies and churches to partner on this end.
First Paradigm: Send our people.
Second Paradigm: Send our money.
Third Paradigm: Partnership/Send Both. (7)
“Twenty eight national workers = the cost of 1 American missionary” (2)
“Considering that the average years of service of a career missionary has dropped from twenty-two years to about twelve years. Those twelve years include two years for support raising, two years furlough, and just eight years of ministry time. Within those eight years of ministry, several years are devoted to language study, cultural learning, and adaptation.” (3)
“But missions is not just about cost-efficiency. Most of all, we must consider the biblical mandate: “Go and make disciples.” The scripture does not say “send dollars!” And how will it affect our churches if “Missions” simply becomes part of the budget, without any personal involvement? There is a danger that this second paradigm can encourage the local church to grow more isolated and detached from God’s work worldwide-and ultimately lose its vision, passion, and blessing for obeying God’s command in Scripture. (3-4)
Partnerships bring new and different challenges “like accountability, dependency, and cross-cultural differences-a potential minefield of conflicts, causing frustrations and disappointments…” (8)
“Whereas in the United States a partnership is often looked upon as a business effort based on joint interests, in most other cultures, partnerships are a relational commitment with a purpose beyond the relationship.” (27)
“For many, commitment to the partnership is very similar to marriage….” “Relationships need time!” (27)
“Short-term partnerships? To people outside the United States, this is a contradiction in terms.” “…most non-Americans think long-term, a lifetime or beyond. There is permanency, commitment, and stability in the relationship.” (28)
The is value in joint projects for specific tasks, but there is little time for relationship development or growth of individuals and organizations. (28-9)
“When we develop a joint project, the national partner may have very different expectations or feel pushed to play the role that is expected in order to obtain the funds or help needed.” (29)
One obstacle may be the inability to get credible guarantees that funds designated will not be co-mingled with funds for other purposes. (30)
“The challenge is to always strengthen local skills and confidence, while weakening international dependency.” (34)
“Our hurried lifestyles tend to come with us as we move across into other cultures. It especially creates a tension in cultures where relationships are more important than programs.” For us 100 years is a long time. For them 100 miles is a long way! (38)
“Another tension …is the American desire to see numbers as tangible and measurable results.” “This tension...can easily result in partners feeling pressured in fabricating statistics….” (39)
Lessons Learned: (41)
· Be specific and detailed and prepared for ‘give and take’
· Local church-based ministry models are key.
· Long-term commitment is essential to nationals.
· Partnership is relational commitment with purpose beyond the relationship
· ‘Date’ before committing. Relationships take time.
· Long-term is much longer in other cultures
· Establish structures and guarantees for accountability and communication
· Keep Christian leaders informed.
· Use a ‘broker’ to establish the partnership
· Discourage dependency through encouragement and empowerment
· Encourage creativity if needed
· Say what you mean. It’s easy to accidentally mislead.
Seven Principles of an Effective Partnership (Ch. 4) “
· Christ’s lordship
· Mutual respect
· Mutual accountability
· Local accountability
· Long-term commitment to the partnership
· Development of unity and respect within the local culture
· Need for a vision and purpose beyond the partnership” (50)
“Americans who want to start ministries in Romania must first establish good relations with the religious leaders.” “They must come with a definite purpose and a very specific ministry in mind. Then they should do a thorough research of the field. Is there a real need for their ministry? Or is the need for a slightly different one? They should be flexible. Also they should gather the information from multiple sources, not just one person.” (55)
What the Romanian partners say: (74-5)
· Understand the local legal, cultural, and church situation
· Accountability is key for personal development and partnership
· Recruit and encourage nationals in their area of giftedness
· Work with people whose reputation is above reproach. Check them out.
· A mutual respect and trust is needed from the beginning.
· Treat the national partners as equals
· Respond to real felt needs instead of pushing your program
· Help nationals develop their own programs
· Encourage national ownership
· Work only in and through existing local churches
How to Get Started (p. 91 ff.)
1. “Study the topic of partnership.”
2. “Develop a focused prayer initiative.”
3. “Identify a potential area, partner, and broker.”
4. “Consider your objectives for the partnership.”
5. “Consider what you can bring to the partnership.”
1. “Check out the lay of the land.
2. “Report to and educate the church.
3. “Develop and agree on joint objectives, strategy, values, and timeline.”
1. “Increase hands-on involvement.
2. “Educate and increase church awareness.’
For more reading on partnerships, see
Building Strategic Relationships, and Making Your Partnership Work, by Daniel Rickett
For models of partnership according to Tokumboh Adeyemo, see Bill Taylor’s book, Kingdom Partnerships for Synergy in Missions.