By Jeremy Resmer | Senior Director of Projects
Seth Godin, a well-known marketing and thought leader, has frequently discussed the idea of “The Connection Revolution” where technology connects people to form relationships and share ideas that will create value and revolutionize the way everything gets done – education, enterprise, government, religion, EVERYTHING. While this attitude is disrupting life globally and can certainly be called a revolution (at least for everyone not in Generation C), I think it’s better described as an economy, The Connected Economy.
Godin mentions four pillars of connectedness:
- Coordination – creating value by bringing everyone together
- Trust – working together even if you have never previously met
- Permission – the privilege of talking to people who will listen to you
- Exchange of Ideas – you will learn more from each other than by yourself (in other words, all of us together are smarter than any of us individually)
He also addresses two values that must be present in order for this environment to develop and flourish:
- Generosity – because no one wants remain connected to a selfish person who is always taking and never giving
- Art – choosing to connect and do something that hasn’t been done before
So why did I decide to blog about a marketing guy’s view of the world? Because, in fact, this is happening everywhere around us, right in front of our very eyes. The people and organizations that understand and take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity we have before us will be the leaders and influencers of the next generation. Those that resist change or simply ignore the technology that is shaping our lives will simply fall behind. Way behind.
In my position, I oversee all of our projects internationally. I frequently travel, meet with local peoples, and get a small glimpse of the world. Of course, my viewpoint is greatly influenced by my own experiences and environment. But what have I learned so far?
Haitians are connected to Ethiopians are connected to Cambodians are connected to Kenyans are connected to Guatemalans are connected to Iraqis are connected to South Africans are connected to Americans and so on. And despite not owning a laptop computer, many of my friends in these countries are more “connected” than I am. In addition, they have relationships to various non-profit organizations that I have only heard of. And while many have been quick to connect person-to-person, many non-profits, in general, have not connected with other non-profits though they are desperately fighting to achieve the same goals. Many don’t want to open their network for fear of losing donations or work together because they won’t give up control or acknowledge that others may know of a more efficient, culturally appropriate way to solve the same problem. For various reasons, we tend to want to hold onto the way things have always been rather than accept that change is constant. We are better together, especially when we put aside our egos and agendas to accomplish things far greater than any of us individually, things that will improve many lives.
This is one of those visionary aspects I really appreciate about World Orphans and other like-minded organizations. We acknowledge that we CANNOT do it alone. Caring for orphaned and vulnerable children is a monumental task because they will always exist in this life and can be found in every community in every country on this planet. However, rather than give up and relinquish the fight, we choose to align ourselves with churches, businesses, non-profits, and every-day people from all over the world who are passionate and will not quit.
One of our core values is commitment to partnership. We say it. We mean it. Currently, World Orphans partners 48 international churches to US churches, one-to-one, and have more than a dozen formal and informal partnerships with organizations that share a similar vision to empower the church and offer complementary resources and specializations. In fact, in each of our five countries of growth in our ministry, we have formal partnerships in place that support our mission and objectives.
Here’s how collaboration plays out in real life. Last month, I traveled to Guatemala for the 4th time in 15 months to participate in the training and rollout of a formal 4-way partnership between AMG (Guatemala), World Orphans, Guatemalan churches, and US churches. It’s the first time we have included this many partners to do ministry together. However, we each had something valuable to bring to the table and loosely defined roles that will ultimately help empower the local church to care for its people, provide food, education, medical care, counseling, skills training for vulnerable children, and build capacity to strengthen families.
Our time together included a lot of listening, learning, processing, and discussing. It also included eating together, prayer, laughter, and tears. We were building relationships and it was effective.
The pre-requisite for partnership is alignment not agreement. We will likely never agree on everything but can always align with something, the Great News of Jesus spread by churches locally through actions and words. The rest are details that can be worked out through coordination, trust, permission, and shared ideas handed out generously, with the objective of accomplishing something that honors God, is bigger than anyone individually, and possibly has never been done before.
You see, church partnerships are difficult and messy. Churches, like hospitals, are full of broken and hurting people, sometimes physically and often emotionally, spiritually and relationally. But when God’s people join together, unified under the banner of love, and give encouragement to the broken, it becomes a beautiful mess…and it’s all worth it.