Going alone, blazing a trail, pioneering used to be celebrated terms in the world mission of the church. Our own Salvation Army pioneers single-handedly opened fire as our early vision powered their advance. That was then. This is now.
The world is undergoing a radical re-shaping under the impact of globalization. This global movement showcases the power of partnerships. Institutions and systems struggling to survive are redefining themselves, and partnership plays a significant role. Companies once rivals are discovering that merging is a more sustainable strategy than battling alone. Anyone with access to a PC can acquire vast amounts of information once available only to a few. Global travel makes world citizens accessible to one another and their resources. These dramatic changes, and more, dictate the formation of connected networks to replace tired and detached hierarchies. Look at today’s best-run organizations and you will likely find human networks with leaders at the center and partner-followers organized around them. These networks thrive on the dual advantage of improved relationship and increased productivity.
This global movement is impacting the church and its mission in the world. We are learning, ever so reluctantly, the weaknesses of historic movements that bureaucratized the body of Christ and reshaped it from a spiritual organism into an earthly organization with power-seekers at its head. We are hearing the call to return to a more biblical model of Church that redefines leaders as servants and equippers. They form Kingdom partnerships at every level of Christian endeavor. A spirit of Independence dissolves into a strategy of human interdependence and mutual God-dependence. They recognize that as believers we need one another in order to succeed in the Great Commission. An African proverb comes to mind: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Leaders face the ever-present temptation to bypass relationship and fast-track to the short-term quantifiable results they desire for themselves and their group. Effective Kingdom-centered partnerships help us together to do better, to do more, to go farther than we ever could on our own. The bible gives us ample guidance toward functional and productive Kingdom partnerships.
A Biblical Basis for Partnering
In Romans 12: 1-8 we learn that since we are a body, we are formed for partnership – we’re in this together. So we give ourselves in a voluntary engagement, practicing mutual dependence, sacrifice, self-awareness and humility while acknowledging all the time that this is a high-risk enterprise built on trust.
I Corinthians 12: 12-27 instructs us to demonstrate the power of unity by extending value to all, bringing extreme diversities together and looking out for those who are vulnerable. The currency of unity is diversity in mutual submission to one another in Christ.
Ephesians 4: 1-6 focuses on relationships. As believers in one Body, we share the same face, the same head, the same Spirit in a high capacity system that possesses dynamic growth potential.
John 17: 20-23 draws us into the incarnational partnership that brought Jesus to earth. That partnership is the model for evangelism. Once again, it is a high intensity and high risk undertaking with respect to redemption. The glory of God is reflected in this partnership.
And my favorite passage on partnership comes from Ecclestiastes 4:12, “A chord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Inevitable and predictable blessings flow from partnerships in which gifted partners seek not just the fulfillment of their own goals but commit to mutual benefit as they grant one another the grace of space.
Biblical partnering may take more time than doing it myself, but it produces God-honoring results.
Partners in Leadership
The Jack McDowell School for Leadership Development is the product of partnerships, both internal and external to The Salvation Army. Internal partnerships began with Mr. McDowell himself, a long-time friend and fund-raiser who remains a devoted advocate for our mission. The Evangeline Booth College and its Board of Visitors, as well as members of the Territorial Executive Council, guided the formative process of the school. External partnerships began with Arrow Leadership Ministries whom God sent our way at just the right time. Through our ongoing consulting partnership with Arrow, we also enjoy the benefits of their many partnerships in the Christian leadership community.
We now celebrate the addition of a brand new partnership with EQUIP, a leadership ministry established by Dr. John Maxwell (visit iEQUIP.org). One of the programs of this organization is their “Million Leader Mandate” that grew out of Maxwell’s vision to train one million leaders worldwide, especially in developing countries. The million leader goal has been far surpassed but the equipping ministry continues. The curriculum is relevant and accessible for pastors and church leaders, and is comprehensive in the subject matter it covers. As we surveyed this material we came to discover its value as a leadership tool for Salvation Army leaders.
Further dialogue with Doug Carter and Tom Atema at EQUIP resulted in a partnership contract that permits us to use the entire curriculum in a way that fits our context. As a result, we are providing a Salvation Army version of the curriculum, edited by the School for Leadership Development and available free to all our officer and non-officer leaders. The curriculum is made available in monthly lessons on our website, missionmover.org, along with an introductory podcast for each lesson. The first two podcats feature interviews with Tom Atema, recorded at the EQUIP headquarters in Atlanta. Downloadable instructor notes, student notes and powerpoint slides are also included with each lesson.
Through this partnership the complementary missions of EQUIP and the SLD are mutually realized. We encourage officers to partner with us by accessing the material, using it widely as an equipping tool and providing feedback on how this material might become even more effective. We celebrate with EQUIP that “we are partners together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9). We dedicate this Kingdom partnership to the glory of God for the mission of assisting spiritually motivated leaders to grow in character, compassion and competencies to achieve the mission of The Salvation Army.
For more information about EQUIP visit their website at www.iequip.org