Values of Church Partnership: Increase Capacity and Economic Empowerment


by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships photoStarting in January, we debuted our E-Newsletter series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. Since then, this series has helped to define the importance of church-partnership-driven orphan care and has given us a platform to answer the following key questions regarding church partnership: 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?

This series has taken us on a journey that has shown the significance of church partnership. Here’s a brief review of the values we have covered so far:

  1. Relationship over Resources
  2. Equality over Superiority
  3. Reciprocity over Control
  4. Learning over Teaching
  5. One Body over One Part
  6. Affirming Dignity over Serving Needs
  7. Accountability over Intentions
  8. Healthy Dependency over Unhealthy Dependency

As we conclude our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s spotlight the final two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of Increased Capacity and Economic Empowerment.

Value #9 – Increase Capacity Over Increase Charity

Capacity issues raise similar dilemmas as dependency, but they focus more on the intent of the US church. John Perkins said, “Acts of charity can be dangerous because givers can feel good about actions that actually accomplish very little, or even create unhealthy dependency. Overcoming an attitude of charity is a difficult task because it requires givers to demand more of themselves than good will.”

Similarly, Robert Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, warns us of this by saying, “We miss the big picture because we view aid through the narrow lens of the needs of our organization or church, focusing on what will benefit our team the most, and neglecting the best interests of those we serve.” World Orphans avoids this misstep by highlighting the work of the local church, empowering our partners, and improving the life of those we serve.

  1. Economic Empowerment Over Project Sustainability

Arguably, one of the most discussed topics in missions these days is sustainability. Sustainability ensures that people are helped for the long term. For that reason, we are passionate about sustainability. However, our model is not conducive to overall project sustainability due to the simple fact that as children leave our programs (often due to moving out of the area), they are replaced with other children in need. Therefore, rather than focus our efforts on finding sustainable options for the overall project, we focus our energy and research on the economic empowerment of our caregivers.

Through the benefits of church partnership, we are able to work with many people within the US church and international church partners who have special skills and talents in the areas of economics, business, and other methods of development. The challenge is often in implementing plans cross-culturally without forcing ideas on locals. Because of that, World Orphans is sensitive and cautious regarding all economic empowerment projects and requires that all planning be proposed to the International Projects Director.

As you can see, there’s a lot to value in church partnerships. Just as our church partnerships have grown through the years, we expect our values to continue to grow as well. Sure, they will get deeper, but we are convinced that just as we have learned so much through the last decade of facilitating partnerships, they will grow wider as well, expanding into more values that will bring stronger relationships between our US and international partners.

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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