by Kevin Squires, Senior Director of Church Partnerships In January, our E-Newsletter kicked off our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. The reason behind this series is simple - throughout the years, we have tackled a variety of questions about Church Partnership with these following questions at the forefront: 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?
Thus far in our series, we have spotlighted the importance of focusing on Relationship Over Resources, Equality Over Superiority, Reciprocity Over Control, and Learning over Teaching.
As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s lunge into the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of One Body and Affirming Dignity.
Value #5 – One Body Over One Part
Church partnerships call us deeper into the image of the Church as one Body united in Christ, with many unique parts offering different gifts. As we come to know our cross-cultural partners, we learn new ways of understanding the Scriptures, and we see new models of participating in community. We experience our oneness in Christ, while simultaneously seeing the world through God’s eyes and our role in cross-cultural community - not only with our church partner, but also with the wide stretched arms of the global church.
Value #6 – Affirming Dignity Over Serving Needs
Truth be told, serving others is NOT our primary calling at World Orphans; rather, we’re called to follow and imitate Christ, and in doing that, we discover three things: Who am I, How can I best serve others, and How can I best be served. Duane Elmer, author of Cross-cultural Servanthood, defines ‘serving’ as the ability to relate to people in such a way that their dignity as human beings is affirmed, leaving them more empowered and equipped to live God-glorifying lives. One of the most vital attributes that drives churches to partnership is the desire to serve those in need. At first glimpse, ‘those in need’ appear to be those living in extreme poverty – the impoverished, the orphaned, the vulnerable. But it doesn’t take long to realize that needs exist in America as well. Despite severely limited resources, the love displayed by our international church partners in their respective communities constantly inspires our US church partners to love more, worship more, and even serve more locally by affirming dignity in all those they serve.
As you can see, focusing on the unity of one body ensures us that Christ is the center, not our mere efforts. Likewise, when each church within the partnership focuses on affirming the dignity on one another, it reinforces the notion that poverties exist in different shapes and sizes and that God places people in our paths to help speak into those areas of poverty.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.