by Kevin Squires, Senior Director of Church Partnerships Over the last 8 years, World Orphans has guided churches through the beauty of church partnership. Throughout our journey, we have learned so many lessons on how to do things and how not to do things. Amidst that journey, whether at conferences or simply talking to prospective church partners, we have constantly been asked questions like… 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?
Those questions are real and are grounded in an American culture where churches often operate alone. Driving through America, it’s no surprise to see a church on every corner. While some work together to reach their community, a common denominator in most of our churches is autonomy, where churches seek to do ministry on their own.
Having said that, World Orphans values church partnership to the point that we pour all of our time and energy into forming and strengthening partnerships between American and international churches to care for orphans all throughout the world.
Nestled in the heart of what we do is our Ten Values of Church Partnership. Over the next few months, we will be spotlighting the values that go into building and maintaining healthy church partnerships – starting with Relationship and Equality.
1. Relationship Over Resources Many people assume the key focal point of church partnership is the transferring or sharing of resources. Although sharing resources is a valued and integral part of our partnerships, it isn’t our primary focus. A true partnership implies the building and nurturing of a relationship over a period of time that transcends the collaboration on any particular project. When the relationship is valued above all, it allows for mutuality, transformation, and equal participation.
2. Equality Over Superiority Many partnerships diffuse over time because of paternalism, or one-sidedness. True equality in partnerships allows each of the partners to function from a place of strength rather than weakness. Each partner should feel that they have a role to play and a service that needs to be provided to benefit the partnership as a whole. Healthy partnerships intentionally incorporate opportunities for dialogue, planning, assessing, challenging, and reﬂecting together, in order to not fall into the “superior vs. inferior” trap.
We encourage you to stay tuned for next month’s E-News article where we will continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership! In the meantime, if you are interested in partnering your church with World Orphans or simply want more information on our ministry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.