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Letting Go of Partners

In our previous blog post, “Year-End Partner Evaluations,” we gave a template for evaluating partners. What do you do if the evaluation brings up issues serious enough to make you reconsider a particular partnership? How should you handle that conversation? And how do you decide to decrease or even stop giving to a partner when these issues come up?

The love we should exhibit towards our brothers and sisters in Christ demands direct communication.

Communicate the Changes in Partnership

While having direct conversation is hard, it is also kind. Simply changing your support level, canceling a short-term trip, or discontinuing calls in hopes they won’t notice is a foolish and, dare I say, cowardly approach. Communicating these issues directly is hard and may cause friction in a relationship, but not doing so will certainly lead to brokenness. The love we should exhibit towards our brothers and sisters in Christ demands this type of communication.


Here are some recommendations for how to let go of overseas partners:


Setting Expectations

First, get on the same page about expectations. If you’re not on the same page, take time to get on the same page. Don’t cut a partner if you haven’t given them the chance to know your expectations and respond. If you share those expectations and they cannot agree with them or work towards them, then you have a clear avenue for ending that partnership. If they are willing to work towards those expectations, give them time to do so. This blog is coming out in December. If you’re considering discontinuing the relationship with one of your partners, give them till at least June to start working towards meeting some of your expectations. Some overseas partners will be forthright that your expectations go against the vision God has given them. Don’t fault them for that! Encourage them in their clarity of calling while still being clear about the differences in theology, strategy, or relationship that are leading the church to end the partnership.


When They Aren’t Meeting Expectations

Second, if a partner isn’t making progress, let them know they are not meeting the expectations that were agreed upon. This is obviously easier if you have expectations written down that you can revisit. If they need clarification on some of the expectations, you could consider giving them more time to meet those expectations. Sometimes people will say, “I was confused” or “I didn’t understand what you meant.” While that might be true, they could also be using it as an excuse to save face. How much of that you tolerate is up to you!


At this point, you could choose to give the partner more time or to start an off-boarding process for that partnership. If you choose to give them more time, then you should have a timeline for re-evaluation that they can follow. If it’s time to off-board them, then give them clear steps for how it will happen.

We know clearly from Scripture that God is pleased when we take the resources he has given us and utilize them for his glory and not our own.

Ending the Partnership

Third, here are some recommendations for off-boarding a partner. Start by setting the end goal. Whether it's a complete split from the partner or simply a change in the finances that you give them, have a timetable in mind for when you want the change to take place. If you are cutting a partnership completely, consider giving a one-time gift of three to six months’ support. If you’re simply decreasing your giving, consider tapering from current giving towards that end goal over a period of three to six months instead of just changing to the new amount the next time you give.


Stewardship is hard. It involves making hard choices and dying to ourselves. Yet, we know clearly from Scripture that God is pleased when we take the resources he has given us and utilize them for his glory and not our own. We pray you’ll have an abundance of God’s grace and wisdom this year as you make decisions about the stewardship of the resources God has given you!

 

Mike Ironside is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.

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