Last year IVP released a series of short books designed to equip the church for effective missional ministry. The third book in the series, Partnering with the Global Church (2012), equips readers with seven ways to be a global partner in Christian mission. The authors, Nikki Toyama-Szeto and Femi Adeleye, apply their years of experience as partners in various Christian ministries in the Global South and Global North to their understanding of how to develop and sustain global partnerships. They address persistent problems in global partnership such as power, money, communication style, cultural differences, trust, and unexamined assumptions. They whole-heartedly believe that, in spite of the challenges, “global partnerships fills out and expands our picture of God” (p. 16).

Toyama-Szeto and Adeleye state that the starting point for partnerships is getting to know each other, appreciating what the other has to offer, and establishing interdependency characterized by equality and the humility of Jesus (Phil. 2). Partnering involves listening, identifying resources, learning about each others’ values, and practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fellowship, and worship.

Toyama-Szeto and Adeleye point out seven ways to be a global partner. They call these ways “partnership practices.” The purpose of the practices is to cultivate the heart, mind, and behaviors that default at partnership, rather than self-sufficiency. They remind Christians that “we need to work as members of a whole body, rather than as individual specialized parts. ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you!’” (I Cor. 12:21). (p. 16)

Their seven partnership practices are:

  • Practice listening and learning.
  • Practice interdependency.
  • Practice assuming God is already at work.
  • Practice giving and receiving from others.
  • Practice identification with others in their world and realities.
  • Practice paying attention to the effects of power on communication, decision and resources.
  • Cultivate the practices of being a partner in yourself, your group, your organization before entering into a partnership. (p. 21)

Toyama-Szeto and Adeleye describe these practices through examples of what they look like in real life ministry situations. They compelling demonstrate how indispensible they are for authentic, transparent, and effective ministry in global ministry.

The book is written for Western Christians, who, unlike much of the rest of the world, consider partnership with others an option. In its pages readers are challenged with critically important insights that will help them to develop self-awareness and other awareness as they prepare for global ministry.  Their message is clear: we’re not prepared for global ministry unless we start practicing it with a teachable spirit every day.

You can get your own copy of Partnering with the Global Church is available at IVP in eBook and in print.

Susan Disston was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment at Biblical Seminary.


0 # Philip Monroe 2013-01-23 20:37
Susan, thanks for this post. I shared the post and the principles with my class via WebEx last night. Apropos to the work of global trauma recovery!

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0 # Kyuboem Lee 2013-01-24 12:16
Wonderful points! I am using 2 books in my class, Intro to Cross-Cultural Ministry, that elaborate on this very theme: Leading Cross-Culturally, by Sherwood Lingenfelter, and Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, by Ron Sider et al.
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0 # Susan Disston 2013-01-24 16:46
Phil--I'm glad you shared this book with your class. It should get a broad reading ... it packs a lot of wisdom in a few pages and can be discussed in small groups or used in team training.
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0 # Susan Disston 2013-01-24 16:47
Kyuboem--Thanks for sharing your textbooks titles. Here's another title I have found profoundly helpful: Learning from the Stranger: Christian Faith and Cultural Diversity, by David I. Smith.
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