We were originally designed to live in open, transparent, trusting relationships (Genesis 2-3). Because of that, partnership/network is based on God’s character, it’s not an idea invented in business. It is a visible manifestation of the heart of the Good News – reconciliation. Psalm 133, John 17:21-23 and many other passages demonstrate this.
Prayer must the basis for all effective partnership/networks. Satan wants to destroy believers’ unity and their effectiveness. Have others pray for your collaborative initiative and make prayer a central feature of everything you do with others.
Then, here are eight proven partnership/network principles that make all the difference. Follow them closely and succeed. Ignore them and you are likely to fail.
- Effective partnership/networks have a highly motivating, commonly owned vision that A) Is clearly a God priority B) Is beyond the capacity of any individual or even an organization C) Can be effectively measured and evaluated D)Adds value to each partner’s own vision and purpose.
- Effective partnership/networks break the big vision into limited, achievable, high-value objectives that can be evaluated, reported on, and celebrated! Especially in the beginning you need the encouragement of even small successes. Don’t over organize! Just enough structure to meet your objectives.
- Effective partnership/networks are built on trusting relationships. Leadership must be very intentional about processes that will build trusting relationships. There must be trust in the vision; in the partners; and the partnership/network process.
- Effective partnership/networks need a committed facilitator not a boss. Often both servant and prophet, the person must be fully committed to the common vision yet sensitive to the needs of each partner. The facilitator needs a supporting team. If organizations or ministries are involved, each should have a “champion” for the partnership/network project.
- Effective partnership/networks are a process not an event. They take time and patience. Doing the research, active listening, getting to know the key leaders, and building consensus before calling people together is like a strong foundation for an important building. Calling a meeting too soon may destroy the chances for success! There are no good shortcuts.
- Effective partnership/networks are made up of partners with clear identities and vision. When each knows their strengths their contribution will be more effective and satisfying.
- Active communication is critical. Effective partnership/networks are aware of and communicate with four groups: The people we are seeking to reach or serve; those active in the partnership/network; the administration of any partner organization; and those who pray, give, and provide other resources.
- Effective partnership/networks focus on what the partners have in common – not their differences. Effectively evaluating your progress; communicating consistently with the four groups mentioned above (#7), and celebrating progress with all the partners are all vital.