What is a Missions Partnership?

What is a Missions Partnership?

Briefly stated, a missions partnership is a vehicle that enables missions engagement. When we choose to engage in a partnership with an International Worker (IW) and their team, we effectively bring their work from across the world into our world. Missiologist Dwight Smith called this “telescoping” – taking something that is far away and making it look close; taking something that appears to look one way (small) and making it look more like it actually is (large). Partnership, then, accomplishes two things.

First, it is integral in the work of missions. IWs do not exist on an island. They are developed, sent, supported, and cared for by churches. Just as climbers have those who hold the safety rope, IWs have churches “holding the rope” of their ministry. Beyond background support, however, a church can also have significant impact in assisting the IW in their work. From helping to host events, completing building projects, and joining in evangelistic endeavors, the presence of outside teams can have an important role in their long-term work.

Second, a missions partnership serves as a vehicle for a church to engage deeply in missions. The five aspects of missions engagement (relationships, praying, giving, sending, promoting) need to be tied to something tangible, and a partnership with an IW and their team provides a great opportunity. As a church walks out the framework of partnership, these elements naturally come into existence.

So, what is the framework of a partnership? At its core, a partnership is comprised of five components: staying aware, strategic prayer, doing our share, going there, partner care.

  • Staying Aware. It’s impossible to partner well with an IW and their team unless the church is aware of of them and their work. This involves two elements – communication with the IW, and communication with the church.
  • Strategic Prayer. The word “strategic” precedes prayer very intentionally because it is easy to assume that prayer is occurring. Rather, we must be intentional and strategic to craft environments of dedicated prayer for our partners and their work. We engage in spiritual work, not merely physical work, and therefore prayer is the fuel for anything that is done with the Lord.
  • Doing our Share. This component highlights the financial aspect of the partnership. God has given us work to do, and it has expense associated with it. Therefore we give to accomplish that which God has called us to.
  • Going There. Some people argue against spending funds to physically visit and work with their IW partners. “Far better,” they say, “to give $2,000 to their work than to spend it on an airline ticket.” This, however, is both misguided and short-sighted. It’s misguided because it forgets that all gospel work is relational, not transactional. It’s short-sighted because it forgets that if all you do is send money, one day you’ll stop. God wants to do something deep in our hearts to align them more with His, and He uses presence to do it.
  • Partner Care. IWs are *pause for dramatic effect – people. Therefore, one aspect of partnership is caring for them… like people. We support their work, yes, but we also support them personally. This takes a variety of shapes, but at its core it centers around caring for the whole person, and not just their calling and vocation.

Missions Partnerships are wonderful endeavors that link us more closely to the Lord, His work, and the people He has sent to do it. Accordingly, they are a joy for us, and glory to Christ. There is, of course, more that can be said, so please feel welcome to reach out to me anytime to talk further.

Together with you,

ctweedy@rmdcma.com or (406) 647-2764