The mission of God through his churches, is best implemented in partnerships. Two major mistakes are sometimes made in missions from my experience. One is what has been referred to as “drive-by missions” where a short-term project is undertaken with no thought of strategy, follow-up, or long-term implications. The other is paternalism in missions where one side of the partnership is dominant in terms of experience, finance, or implementation. Both mistakes should be avoided if at all possible.
Missions should be undertaken with the long-term view in mind. At the outset of a partnership, whether it be local, national, or international, clear parameters, expectations, and objectives should be set for everyone involved. This way both partners know what to anticipate and how they can best fulfill their responsibilities. It is much easier to get into a mission partnership than it is to conclude a mission partnership.
Missions should be implemented on as level of ground as possible. Meaning that both partners have equal value, but different roles, in the partnership. The stronger partner in particular must be diligent to approach the process with humility and seek to learn and further the project through the giftings and strengths of those who will carry on the work.
Mission partnerships must be evaluated and improved throughout the process for maximum effectiveness. As a church, this is what we seek to do. We are currently engaged in local partnerships with community and school organizations, with two church plants connected to West Virginia, two church plants in others states, and four international partnerships for a total of eight ongoing and intentional efforts. Each of these is unique and require a different strategy. Prayer for wisdom is essential, along with good communication between partners. God blesses partnership missions!