Building Strategic Relationships
A Practical Guide to Partnering with Non-Western Missions,
STEM Press, 2008, 95 pp., ISBN 978-0-9711258-5-8
Daniel Rickett is executive vice president of Sisters In Service.† He has also served as director of research at Geneva Global and associate professor of leadership at Eastern University.† He has twenty-five years of field experience working with indigenous missions.
This little book began as two articles in EMQ.† Additional material has been added to help church and mission agency leaders successfully create and guide their relationships with on-Western missions.†† It is a compilation of principles and checklists supplemented with commentary, rather like an introductory workshop on each topic.†
A growing number of local churches and mission organizations want to increase their impact and extend their influence by partnering with indigenous ministries but many lack the appropriate experience and guidance.† These principles help you think through the process and evaluate current ministry relationships.†
Premise:† "In the new age of missions, coalitions, alliances, and strategic partnerships are not an option--they are a necessity." (Introduction)
Chapter 1.† Defining Partnership
ďA partnership is a complementary relationship driven by a common purpose and sustained by a willingness to learn and grow together in obedience to God.Ē (13)† True partnership is brotherhood. (14)
The most challenging question for a partnership:† "Are we contributing to our mutual development?"† Focusing on the partnership means helping build one another's capacity. (15)
Partnership requires three preconditions: (18-19) [Values checklist on p. 20]
Chapter 2.† Finding a Partner
Before forming a partnership, go through the readiness checklist on p. 27.
Chapter 3.† Understanding Dependency
The fear of creating dependency haunts potential partners.† Rickett differentiates healthy and unhealthy dependence.† "Dependency is the state of relying on someone or something." (29)† In a healthy relationship, both partners recognize their responsibilities and work to fulfill them.† Both give and receive, teach and learn, lead and follow.† Unhealthy dependency begins when the relationship is a one-way flow of resources, whether money or personnel.† (32)†
Some ways to create unhealthy dependence are to establish an alliance with a 'lone ranger,' to send money directly to individuals, to finance local pastors or churches, to give resources based only on need, or to underwrite 100 percent of a ministry's need. (33-5)† Some "don'ts" for managing dependency and a check list are give on pp. 35-38.
Chapter 4.† Sharing Resources
Several checklists are provided.† The tension between generosity and responsibility is evident.†
Chapter 5.† Managing Accountability
"Every partnership needs to maintain accountability.† It is the foundation for safeguarding credibility and building trust." (53)† It is no panacea but it can help keep a relationship healthy and moving forward.† It is easy to understand and difficult to implement. (53)†
Accountability is not a one-way street.† Discuss it with your partners in regard to purpose, practice, benefits, and potential abuses. †Write a joint definition and purpose.† Set up a reliable structure with clear goals and establish the ground rules in writing.† (55-6)† See a checklist and twelve ways to be accountable on pp. 59-60.
Chapter 6.† Building Capacity
"The key to successful developmental partnering is managing the gray area between what you can do for a ministry and what they should do for themselves." (63) †"If you help people 1) define their own needs, 2) search for solutions, and 3) mobilize their own resources, you have begun the process of building capacity." (65)†
"The key to building capacity is not developing programs.† The key is enabling people--the leaders and members of the partner ministry.† Helping people learn and effect changes in their own ministry is the most essential--and the most difficult--part of developmental partnering." (65) [Does this imply that part of the process is also learning to effect changes in our own ministry? dlm]
"Whether we deal with individuals or entire organizations, building capacity has to do with supporting people in their own learning and development.† Our purpose is not to impose changes.† We are to facilitate the process and enhance people's skills to implement their own solution.† Facilitating self-development is key to building capacity." (65)
Establish expectations at the outset and recalibrate them periodically.† Monitor and review changes.† Evaluate the impact of external funding on self-reliance and make decisions accordingly. (69-70)
Chapter 7.† Avoiding Pitfalls† (73-85)
Donít assume you think alike.† Be explicit about expectations and your capabilities.
Donít promise more than you can deliver.† Under promise and over deliver.
Donít go without a map.† Establish goals.
Donít underestimate intercultural differences.† Build understanding.
Donít take shortcuts.† Develop and use evaluation procedures
Donít forget to develop self-reliance.† Include self-reliance goals.
†††††† A good rule of thumb is to provide a minority of their total income.
Donít run a race with no end.† Have an exit plan from the beginning.
ďHave a vision for the partnership and frame it in terms of achievable goals.
Cultivate trust by practicing respect and integrity in every detail.
Evaluate the relationship by measuring outcomes.Ē† (85)
†* * * * * *
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