It has been said that the key to having a healthy, vibrant, engaged partnership team is to continually express your gratitude and connect them with the ways their partnership is making a difference in your life and in the lives of those you serve together.
While we believe that's 100% true, let's talk about true partnership. How often do you, as a missionary, hear how God is making a difference in your partners’ lives? Partnership should be a dialogue - it goes two ways. So, how well do you really know your partners? Do you know how to specifically pray for them, and more importantly, do you pray for them?
Partnership is dear to my heart because I was able to experience the partnership of believers early on in my Christian life. When I became a Christian in college, tender and far from home, the local church just enveloped me. Two women of that church mentored me for years, gifting me with thoughtful reminders of their regular prayers for me. Later, when I became a missionary, we went on our annual fundraising trips, making sure to stay with one of those families and spend time with the other while visiting as many financial partners as possible.
Invest time making individual deposits between newsletters. Celebrate with them, empathize with them, and intercede for them.
Now, Paul’s example in the opening of Philippians 1 has continually challenged and shaped the way I view and involve my ministry partners. He mentions praying for them, affectionately longing for them, holding them in his heart, pointing them to Christ.
I have to be honest; it has convicted me more than I expected. I had never even met some of my partners, let alone prayed for them. Sure, maybe I prayed in a general way for them, but what did I really know about what was going on in their lives?
As I thought about ways to deepen my relationships with them, God began laying questions on my heart to ask them.
- What compels you about this mission? What resonates with you?
- What would you like to hear more about? What topics interest you?
- What pictures would you like to see?
- What are your spiritual gifts? How could God use them on our team?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- What forms of social media do you use?
- What are your birthdays? Anniversaries?
- What would you like to pray about? (Muslim outreach, etc.)
- What can I pray for you?
The answers to these questions invoked a deeper relationship with my ministry partners, and deepened their involvement in the work. As I learned my partners’ spiritual gifts, I encouraged their participation in ministry with me and in their own communities.
How will you get to know your partners? Consider developing a "Glad You're on the Team" email, thanking them for their partnership and letting them know what they can expect as a teammate. You could create and send a brief partner questionnaire using Google Forms or Survey Monkey. Both can generate a spreadsheet that conveniently houses the answers for your reference. These questions can also be asked at the end of a first-time personal meeting, in a follow-up call, via Skype from the field, on furlough, or whenever, wherever.
The point is, ministry doesn't just take place on the field. Building and maintaining relationships from the field is equally important. Invest time making individual deposits between newsletters. Celebrate with them, empathize with them, and intercede for them. Intentional, thoughtful communication is the fuel that will keep those relationships going for years to come.
Deb Evans, Fundraising Coach
Being a fundraising coach is exciting because I am able to meet with and help God’s ambassadors get to the field. Coaching also gives me the privilege of contributing to the Great Commission. When I’m not coaching or blogging, I’m surfing the web for new recipes to try on my family in Birmingham, AL. They are my Guinea pigs!