Myths to reject—to help your partnership succeed, part 1 of 3

  1. “I have more to teach than to learn, more to give than to receive.”
    When it comes to cross-cultural partnership ministry, it’s often the other way around. You may indeed have much to teach, but if you have this attitude, it will be an obstacle to serving well. Why not engage in cross-cultural partnership to learn together, to discover what God is teaching all parties in the partnership? What’s more, given that the church in the west is generally in significant decline (see my blog post, 15 August 2009), shouldn’t we rather learn from our brothers and sisters in the majority world—how to pray, strategize, serve and suffer well in the cause of Christ?
  2. “We can partner without being invited.”
    I recently heard of a mega-church that decided to build a school in Africa for half a million dollars, and then also committed to fund it for 10 years. Seems like a worthy goal, except for one huge thing: This was done without consultation from the local leadership, without local “ownership”—essentially, without being invited. This is probably a train-wreck waiting to happen. It belies a lack of trust and respect for local leaders, and violates the spirit of humble servanthood. For more on this, see my blog post, “Have we been invited?
  3. “I can control the partnership with the right system.”
    I am aware of a cross-cultural partnership which began with this attitude: “We absolutely can’t let this fail” … “We have to control this as much as possible” … “One of us from our side will sit on their board of directors, and we are going to MAKE SURE there are no problems.” What do you think happened? The partnership failed miserably—and there is an ongoing three-year lawsuit between these Christian partners. The result has been that thousands upon thousands of dollars have been squandered, along with untold heartache and the name of Christ defamed.
  4. “My ministry model is the most biblical.”
    If you believe that, you have probably labored intensely to be faithful to the Word of God—and paid a significant price to do so. This is a good thing. But isn’t it also true that your ministry model is influenced in part by your culture, your worldview, and peer group? Your ministry model is one way of obeying the Scriptures, and it is possibly no more biblical than a myriad of other ministry models found in the majority world. Consequently, we should be very cautious in trying to extend our unique ministry model across other cultures around the world.

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