Has God given you a dream to achieve? a vision to fulfill? a cause to conquer? a burden for breakthrough in some area of ministry?
Take a look around.
You are likely to find many others who share the same passion. Time and time again, we have seen that the dreams stirring in one person’s heart are the same dreams stirring in another person’s heart.
That is what missional partnerships are all about.
Whether your ministry context is a neighborhood or a nation, mission partnerships are born when the vision is too big, too complex, or requires resources too great for any individual or single ministry.
Vision is the driving force that shapes a partnership. Partnerships are not first and foremost about structure, or money, or theological statements. Partnerships are first and foremost about vision.
The phenomenon of multiples
We often think of great ideas, big dreams, and powerful visions as something rare and unique. But in reality, they are all around us. If we really start listening and looking around, we often find that multiple people have exactly the SAME vision, at the SAME time, in the SAME place.
It’s not a singular vision. It’s a simultaneous vision.
Did you know that people who are blindfolded will tend to walk in circles?
No one completely understands why human beings do this. If someone is blindfolded or disoriented or even lost in unfamiliar territory, they will often veer off course in random circles, even when they think they are walking in a straight line.
Some have supposed that the phenomenon of walking in circles has something to do with being right-handed or left-handed, or perhaps something to do with having stronger or longer legs on one side or the other. But neither of these explanations has held up to scientific study.
One of the more interesting studies was conducted recently by Jan Souman of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.
- By Tim Brown
The Tree of Life (TOL) partnership training has recently been translated into the Oriya/Odia language of East India and is now available for free download.
Tree of Life was originally developed several years ago in partnership with Scriptures in Use and the Bridges Training Network South Asia. At the time, there was little partnership training material that would be appropriate for use among the grassroots oral culture churches in the villages of North India and Nepal.
TOL was developed to provide a Biblical foundation for partnership and practical principles that leaders of local village churches could apply as they worked together in evangelism and church planting, economic development, community and social development, and social justice projects. The TOL training format was designed to be easily replicated by participants in their home villages.
In the past five years, nearly 3,000 leaders have participated in TOL trainings in South Asia. Today, hundreds of oral Bible churches are working together to transform their communities through partnership.
After demonstrated success in South Asia, the Tree of Life training program is now expanding to Africa. A new translation into Amharic for Ethiopia is underway.
Archived version: http://www.webcitation.org/6SdteQ6Xr
I recently returned from a family trip in France where I had the opportunity to take a beautiful bicycle ride. I spend time nearly every week spinning or cycling and I love the exhilarating feeling of changing pace from a slow mountain climb to a flat road sprint.
Not more than a month before our trip, the most famous cycling event in the world had just passed through the city where we were staying. It was the Tour de France – a grueling 21-day race 3,500 kilometers long, passing from sea level to mountain heights of more than 2000 meters and back down again, circling more than half the entire country of France and parts of England.
The Tour de France has run nearly every year since 1903. The race has 21 stages and there is a winner for each stage in addition to an overall winner. It takes a great deal of training, planning, teamwork, and logistical support to even complete the Tour de France – much more so to actually win.
The race can be incredibly difficult and dangerous for cyclists to navigate on their own, so the main riders usually combine to form what is called a peloton – an aerodynamic V-shaped group like a flock of birds. The peloton is a very important part of long distance racing because cyclists in a peloton can save a tremendous amount of energy by riding close together. The reduction in drag accomplished by drafting or slipstreaming together can be as much as 40% in a tight group!
visionsynergy is an unusual type of ministry. We serve as coaches, consultants, and catalysts for missional networks. Much of our time is spent advising, equipping, and supporting other Christian leaders who are working together in various collaborative initiatives to advance the mission of Jesus around the world.
People sometimes ask, “What is the value of having an outside advisor like visionSynergy? Collaboration isn’t rocket science. Can’t groups figure these things out on their own?”
Yes, of course people can collaborate without guidance from an outside advisor. At the same time, we have found that groups often find themselves in “the desert of creativity“ – going around in circles without a clear sense of how to navigate through the inevitable challenges of working in partnership with others.
Having gained all their experience and training within individualistic organizations, leaders sometimes struggle to figure out how to facilitate large-scale collaboration across organizational boundaries.
The reality is that people are not born knowing how to tie their own shoes, much less how to lead networks and partnerships to work together effectively. Collaborative leadership requires a different set of skills than most of us acquire in the normal course of our experience.
This is where an outside advisor can provide perspective – a path through the desert of creativity to the wide blue ocean of collaboration.
There’s a story that illustrates how we as advisors help the groups we serve.
It is a story about a camel.
Here’s a true story we heard recently from one of the networks we serve. May this story encourage those who long for the Gospel to make inroads in the often-difficult countries of the Arabian Peninsula.
In challenging mission locations such as the Arabian Peninsula, regional evangelism networks often play an important role in supporting the valiant efforts of individuals in direct ministry – not only through personal encouragement, but also by spreading word of their initiatives in order to draw funds, mobilize volunteers, and create local contacts.
One country in the Arabian Peninsula has only a single, openly Christian bookstore. Recently the owner of that bookstore got a call from a nameless woman who said she absolutely must have a set of Christian Bibles and resources. The owner invited her to come to the store, adding “I’m open now!”
- By Phill Butler
I was recently on an early morning trip to the airport for a flight overseas. In my city, the road to the airport crosses a bridge over a large lake. After crossing the bridge, I heard an ambulance siren coming up behind the rear of my car. Along with other drivers I pulled over and said a prayer for whoever was inside the ambulance.
Moments later I began thinking: Nobody really likes paying taxes, but we surely value – and rely on – many of the services that our taxes provide. Whoever picked up the phone early that morning and called emergency services for an ambulance could never have expected a quick response if thousands of other people had not paid the taxes that created the infrastructure to allow that ambulance to arrive.
- By Vision Synergy
Since its English language release in 2005, Phill Butler’s book – Well Connected – has become the definitive guide to building effective missional partnerships.
Thousands of ministry leaders around the world have purchased print copies or downloaded the free e-book.
Now, in partnership with La Faculté de Théologie Evangélique de l’Alliance Chrétienne (FATEAC) in Côte d’Ivoire, Phill Butler and visionSynergy are pleased to release the French edition of Well Connected.
Four editions of the book are now available: French, Russian, Spanish, and English. Arabic and Indonesian translations are under way.
- By Vision Synergy
In May 2014, The Lausanne Movement celebrated its 40th anniversary
Pictured above are the Lausanne Senior Associates,
You may already know that The Lausanne Movement stands as one of the most diverse and influential ministries in modern Evangelical Christianity. Christianity Today magazine called the Third Lausanne Congress (Cape Town 2010) the most diverse gathering of Evangelical leaders ever assembled.
But Lausanne’s diversity is not only an expression of the Movement’s commitment to global ministry, diversity also provides the foundation for one of its highest values: collaboration. When leaders across denominational, theological, cultural, and linguistic divides come together in unity to advance the Gospel worldwide, barriers must be bridged, trust built, and rivalries reconciled.
- By Vision Synergy
Over the past several years, we’ve collaborated with Bakke Graduate University to develop a graduate-level course preparing leaders for ministry collaboration. Very few Christian higher education institutions anywhere give students tools to build collaborative partnerships; BGU has made this course a signature offering in their core curriculum. (Last year, this course was one of the most highly-attended summer courses ever offered by BGU!)
Since we first developed this course and released it online for free, at least sixteen educational institutions around the world have implemented or adapted it for their students, and there is ongoing interest as dozens more have downloaded the curriculum for further consideration.