Values of Church Partnership: Importance of Accountability and Healthy Dependency


by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships  DSCR_0049In the beginning of 2015, we debuted our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. It has been our hope that this series will shine light on some of the main questions we frequently receive from our donors, followers, and partners: How do you keep both churches within a church partnership 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?

In this series, we dove head first into key issues such as the importance of Relationship over Resources, Equality over Superiority, Reciprocity over Control, Learning over Teaching, One Body over One Part, and Affirming Dignity over Serving Needs.

As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s stop and highlight the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of Accountability and Healthy Dependency. 

Value #7 – Accountability Over Intentions

Mary Lederleitner, author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships, wisely states, “Good intentions are not good enough to ensure good outcomes in cross-cultural partnerships.” For that very purpose, World Orphans does its due diligence to determine which churches qualify for our partnerships. Building relationships and trust over time, while implementing financial systems to ensure fiscal responsibility, we are able to filter out a lot of the major issues that frequently invade partnerships. In addition, we have many guidelines set up to ensure healthy communication throughout the partnership.

Value #8 – Healthy Dependency Over Unhealthy Dependency

One of the greatest fears in entering into a church partnership where one church lacks necessary resources is the fear of creating dependency. Unfortunately, that fear often paralyzes the American church and lulls us into a state of apathy where many refuse to get involved in partnership altogether. Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly challenged this state of paralysis by saying, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” At World Orphans, we have wrestled with ‘dependency’ and, with the help of Daniel Rickett’s book Building Strategic Relationships, have come to separate the issue into two distinct categories:

Healthy Dependency (interdependence)

  • Partners understand their reciprocal roles and responsibilities.
  • Partners enter the relationship with a clear vision of what each has to offer and gain.
  • Partners maintain independence and capacity to instruct, correct, or refuse the other.
  • Partners honor and guard the unique, divine calling of the other.
  • Partners conduct themselves in a manner that safeguards the other’s integrity.
  • Partners understand that the Lordship of the partnership rests in the hands of Jesus Christ and doesn’t seek to rob God.

Unhealthy Dependency

  • Partners miscommunicate expectations, commitments, and goals; have no clear vision.
  • Partners ignore reciprocity and responsibility.
  • Partners prioritize and emphasize the exchange of funds over the complementary contributions that each other make.
  • Partners work with a ministry that doesn’t have a governing body or long-standing credibility.
  • Partners send funds directly to an individual without establishing accountability measures.
  • Partners give resources based solely on need, instead of building dignity, enhancing responsibility, and expanding results.
  • Partners underwrite 100% of the partnered ministry’s need.

As you can see, building intentional accountability measures will only help to create a sense of healthy dependency. Once again, it’s why we stress the importance of relationship in all of our partnerships.

Stay tuned next month as we 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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