Values of Church Partnership: Reciprocity and Learning


by Kevin SquiresSr Director of Church Partnerships

zIMG_7655Last month, our e-news kicked off a series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. We dove into the importance of valuing Relationship Over Resources and Equality Over Superiority. We unleashed the questions that we battle with each and every day as we help orchestrate church partnerships: How do you keep both churches happy? How do you ensure that both churches are equally benefited by the partnership? How do you keep one church from unintentionally stepping on the other?

It’s no secret that the answers to those questions revolve around relationship.  Relationships, however, aren’t built overnight.  They take time, understanding, humility, and grace.

As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s plunge into the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – Reciprocity and Learning.

Value #3 - Reciprocity Over Control

True relationship is reciprocal, a constant give and take. It is vital in cross-cultural partnerships to understand that we all have ‘poverties’ that need to be addressed … different poverties wear different masks. Some poverties are dirty and reside in shacks, whereas other poverties might be overly clean and hiding in mansions. Fortunately, our poverties are an invitation to another to share their gifts, therein affirming their value and contribution. This requires a spirit of humility, recognizing that we are interdependent and in need of each other.

Value #4 - Learning Over Teaching

If we are conscious to focus on the relationship, to ask open-ended questions, and to learn from our partner, we will often find that they will invite us in to see and understand their reality … their joys and celebrations as well as their sorrows and struggles. These open relationships will often lead us to discover the structures and systems that often trap people in poverty and injustice all throughout the world.  Discoveries like that will often challenge us to confront our own role and contribution to this injustice, whether through our inaction or more actively through our consumer choices, our levels of consumption, etc. Just as Christ came to make all things new, we too are called to work to change those systems and even our own personal habits for the sake of those we have come to know and love (and others who share the same challenges).

Reciprocity and learning require openness, sacrifice, and vulnerability.  They are crucial values in our ability to form and strengthen complementary church partnerships where each and every church in our ministry feels challenged to give and receive.

Watch for next month’s e-news, where we’ll continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership!  In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about church partnership or if you are considering partnering your church with World Orphans, please contact info@worldorphans.org.

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