Tommy Lee on Developing Effective Partnerships With Christian Organizations

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Tommy Lee is the founder of CreatePossible. Previously, he served as Special Assistant to the President at Moody Bible Institute, bringing new life to their conferences, publishing, and radio entities. Prior to his work in the non-profit sector, he was a consultant with FMHC Corporation and project manager with American Tower, where he was recognized as employee of the year. In addition to overseeing CreatePossible’s operations, Tommy specializes in developing sponsorships and private donor relationships.

A phrase that gets thrown around a lot in Christian circles is “let’s partner together.”

Sometimes, tasks and projects are too much for one person, church, or organization. Since no one wants or has the time to reinvent the wheel, why not maximize on each other’s strengths and knowledge?

But we all know that is easier said than done.

Once you sit down together to work through what needs to get done, the how can get tricky. In business, partners are motivated by a mutual desire to make money. In ministry, the motivation may appear to the same, but with differences in theology and leadership qualities, many times a partnership is not viable.

So the question becomes: How does one create partnerships within Christian ministries resulting in collective work for the gospel?

Here are some thoughts and lessons I have learned that have helped me.

1 – Assess if you trust the person

This is one of the most important questions, I think. I firmly believe that as believers we are called to “love” everyone, but honestly, we do not get along with or like everyone. If personalities clash from the get-go, or if you don’t trust the other party, there cannot be a successful partnership.

I know what personalities don’t jive with mine and what traits bother me. Therefore, when I meet potential partners, those are red flags that I look for and then avoid.

Trust is huge! You must be able to trust the persons with whom you are partnering. Once trust is lost, regardless of the reason, a long-term partnership seems dim. It has happened to me with even reputable Christian organizations.

Ultimately, lasting partnerships happen when you know the other party will come through with what they say and promise to carry out. With no trust or broken trust, both parties lose out in the end.

2 – Evaluate working styles

How does the partner work and get things done? Are they more collaborative or more independent?

This was a question I was asking myself during a breakfast meeting with a church pastor. I realized that we were never on the same page or were having a hard time communicating with each other. He likes meeting in groups and making decisions collectively as a group. While I see the benefits of being in a group, I tend to rely on my co-workers to work independently and make necessary decisions accordingly. I like to play off peoples’ strengths and I believe that too many meetings are unproductive and can hinder productivity.

It is better to know from the beginning than realize later on that your working styles are different. By knowing whether you can accommodate each other’s working style, you minimize the chance of jeopardizing the relationship or the project’s end goal.

3 – Listen, Listen, Listen

As much as it is good to get your goals across for a project, it is sometimes more important to hear the other party’s goals and motivation. A genuine partnership forms when both parties share a common vision. Forcing a partnership with different visions or objectives is a recipe for disaster. More time may be spent trying to get your point across than working together.

Synergy is important. By listening, you can better understand the other’s goals and manage expectations. It’s important to take the time out to find a mutual vision that works for both parties. Trust can be built that way and there will be less room for misunderstandings and miscommunication.

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Source: Christianity Today