What’s important for establishing a good partnership between a church and a foreign missionary?
- Theological agreement. A local church and a foreign missionary must share a rock-solid foundation of theological agreement.
- Methodological agreement. Even if both sides of the partnership check all of the right statement-of-faith boxes, it could be that one or both sides live and minister in a way that practically denies what they profess to believe. Therefore, the theological agreement must also embrace methodological agreement. A church and a foreign missionary must have the same functional—or real life—answers to questions like “What role does Scripture play in the way you formulate missions strategies and evangelistic practices?” and “How do you evaluate success?”
- Mutual trust. A local church and a field worker must know each other well enough to trust each other. Without deep-seated trust, a partnership will not endure the strains that distance, time, and other pressures will put on it. This means that a church—the congregation as a whole, not merely its leaders—should personally know and trust a field worker’s character, and a field worker should trust the vision, leadership, and character of a partner church.
- Mutual commitment. In order for a partnership to work, the church must be committed to the worker and the worker to the church. This doesn’t just mean a financial commitment, but a commitment to pray, to communicate regularly, to provide for needs that arise, and to pursue what is in each others’ best interests. Only with such deeply-rooted mutual commitment will a partnership live up to its name.
(Some of this material has been adapted from Ed Roberts’ article, “Missions Partnerships from a Field Worker’s Perspective.”)