Any cross-cultural experience is an opportunity to learn by observation and imitation. How do you eat that? How does public transportation work here? What should I do when I greet someone?
A good principle to keep in mind is “watch and learn.” Observe the local people and do what they do. The same principle can benefit those who work alongside national ministry partners and want to do so effectively.
We asked several North American pastors and mission team leaders who have years of experience in working with indigenous church leaders to share what they have learned by observing their national partners as they served together. Here are a few of their observations.
God’s work is not limited by material resources.
One pastor said, “I have seen examples of vibrant churches meeting under a tree or in the basement of a factory.” The church can thrive in very hostile environments, even under persecution. Economic poverty doesn’t determine spiritual health. Many national ministry partners demonstrate generosity like the churches of Macedonia, truly giving “beyond their ability.”
Teamwork is essential.
To reach the unreached and under engaged people groups of the world, we must join hands with God’s servants who themselves belong to those cultures. National partners often demonstrate that they are eager to be part of a team. The collective good is a high value in many cultures. They welcome the opportunity to serve together with good communication and structure.
A church’s mission team leader said, “Our partners are usually better at teamwork than we are. They welcome our contributions of fellowship, encouragement, and resources. Sometimes they feel alone and overworked.” More laborers working together are needed everywhere around the globe.
A humble spirit makes a big difference.
“Our ministry partners expected us to be arrogant and to show a sense of superiority. When we demonstrated a posture of humility and a desire to bless them, the barriers came down.”
That summed up one pastor’s experience. A simple willingness to learn and to serve will be well-received in any partnership ministry. All of us should follow the example of Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve.”
Are you ready to learn from a national partner? Browse the Live Global projects and updates. Ask God to lead you toward a partner that your church can come alongside to serve and encourage. Find out how you can get involved. Be prepared to observe, learn, and grow.