I believe there are three basic ways to think about risk relative to cross-cultural partnerships—or partnership with indigenous ministries. They are: Avoiding risk, underestimating risk, and navigating risk. This blog post considers the first option:
1) Avoiding risk: People who avoid risk relative to partnership with indigenous ministries do so for various reasons—perhaps because they have heard someone say, “You can’t trust the nationals”—or they tried a cross-cultural partnership and had a bad experience. So they simply conclude, “No way” or “Never again.”
They resist learning lessons of how to adjust their approach; they don’t know about the need to learn new skills. Maybe they are unaware that there is a specific skill set necessary for someone to be a partnership ambassador. So they never consider developing the Christlike servanthood, the listening skills, the cultural intelligence, the organizational systems that are necessary to succeed. They give up, thinking that partnership ought to be easy, or that partnership just doesn’t work. They may still have a nagging sense that the body of Christ really is supposed to work together around the world (the Bible surely seems to say that it’s possible), but they see no way to get there.
Sadly, their default response to the possibility of cross-cultural partnership is to avoid the risk, and thus, to forgo the enormous potential for greater blessing for the peoples of the world. They also forgo the privilege of a deep cross-cultural friendship, not to mention the opportunity to better know the Lord Jesus Christ through the journey of working with Christian leaders from other cultures.
Tomorrow’s post: Part 2 of 3—Underestimating risk