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

  1. “Getting things done is more important than relationships.”
    This is a classic weakness found in many unhealthy partnerships. In the west, we love our formulas for success and our to-do lists. In the majority world, there is a greater value given to relationships,  community harmony and “the journey together.” Jesus teaches us that a vital relationship with him is essential for fruitfulness (John 15:4). Bearing fruit, getting things done flows out of healthy relationships.
  2. “It’s cheaper and easier to just give the job to the nationals.”
    Careful here. There can be an unhealthy attitude in the saying, “More bang for the buck” that suggests partnership with nationals is mainly about the money or the method. The idea of “using the nationals because it is cheaper” can be disrespectful and dehumanizing—both toward the indigenous Christian men and women with whom we are partnering, as well as the western missionaries who live and serve in the majority world at significantly higher cost. Financial stewardship is, of course, an important issue. But it is only one of many variables in the work of Christian world missions.
  3. “We can do partnership quickly.”
    In the American South, there is a saying, “Git ’er done.” I love the spirit behind this saying—hard work, no wasting time, that can-do attitude. But when working in cross-cultural partnerships—in communities where things move much more slowly, where competition and speed is not as important as group harmony—we must adjust to a slower pace. After all, we are their guests! Isn’t it true that relationships and trust are built slowly? Expecting to get things done fast usually results in big disappointment, and can damage a cross-cultural partnership.
  4. “Cross-cultural partnership is easy; we can go it alone.”
    Healthy cross-cultural ministry partnerships require education, training, hard work and many other investments over a long period of time. There are no shortcuts; it’s the law of the farm: You reap what you sow. Furthermore, to think you don’t need the wisdom and experience of missionaries and mission partnership experts is arrogant, and it violates the principle of the interdependence body of Christ—“the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (2 Cor. 12:21). The local church should not say to the professional mission practitioner—neither should the professional mission practitioner say to the church—“I have no need of you.” This African proverb sums it up: “If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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