“Love (Your City)”
by Jacob Bloemberg

Summary of Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Partner 

In Chapter 7, Bloemberg focuses on partnership, drawing on material from writers on  Christian mission and cultural values. Quoting the theme of the Missio Nexus conference in  2018, he writes that partnership is necessary for problems that are “too big to do alone and  too important not to do together.” Christians, he states, need to work together for the  gospel’s sake and with non-Christians for the kingdom’s sake. Bloemberg cites the definition  of partnership among Christians provided by Daniel Rickett, “a complementary relationship driven by a common purpose and sustained by a willingness to learn and grow together in  obedience to God.” Churches may differ, just as the body of Christ has many parts, but they  can find unity in mission. 

Networks and partnerships
Another scholar, Phill Butler, explains the difference between networks and partnerships.  Networks are “any group of individuals or organizations, sharing a common interest, who  regularly communicate with each other to enhance their individual purposes.”  Partnerships are “any group of individuals or organizations sharing a common interest, who  regularly communicate, plan, and work together to achieve a common vision beyond the  capacity of any one of the individual partners.” The Hanoi International Fellowship  established CityPartners as an outreach ministry in order to create partnerships in the city so  everyone can flourish. The Love in Action network was developed as a follow-up to the Love  Hanoi Festival to unite pastors and ministry leaders with a heart for the city and their  communities. Developing networks counteracts the idea that church money should only be  used for church activities. This view relates to the Principles discussed in Chapter 4, that we  are stewards of all creation, must love our neighbors unconditionally, and do good to those  in need because this is how we emulate and serve Jesus.

Cross-sector collaboration
Drawing on the work of Bob Roberts, Bloemberg states that the church acts as a connection  center between believers and all of society’s domains: family, God’s people, education,  media, culture, the economy, and government. In what Roberts calls the glocal church,  every believer should be equipped for mission in their sphere or domain. Thinking about  domains can help churches reflect more broadly about their city and identify opportunities for  engagement.  

To be successful in partnerships, people need to have a broad perspective similar to “court  vision,” the ability to see what’s happening on a basketball court in a 180-degree arc,  according to Linden. He recommends that leaders and teams consciously work to develop a  collaborative mindset in themselves and others. Rickett points out that there are different  levels of collaboration related to involvement and the level of interdependence along an  alliance continuum. The continuum moves from association and alliances, to joint ventures,  complementary partnerships and mergers. Collaboration requires the various partners to  understand their compatibility in terms of leadership style and organizational culture in  relationship to task integration. Bloemberg recommends that groups move slowly in  developing partnerships in order to allow the parties to assess their compatibility.  

Partnering across boundaries
Finally, cross-cultural relationships must be managed well to become an asset for a team.  Here, Bloemberg writes, the work of Geert Hofstede and others in the Dimensions of Culture  Survey (https://geerthofstede.com/culture-geert-hofstede-gert-jan-hofstede/6d-model-of national-culture/) can be very helpful. As an example, he compares power distance – the extent to which less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect  that power is distributed unequally – and individualism-collectivism – the extent to which people feel independent or interdependent. Bloemberg, who is Dutch, finds it easier to work  with people from cultures with high scores in individualism and low power distance such as  the U.S. or Australia, almost exactly the opposite of the cultural attitudes of Asian church  members. These cultural difference affect how people make and implement decisions. To  create cultural synergy across multicultural groups, Bloemberg recommends that team  members know themselves, know their team, and know their styles, for example, selling  ideas or telling people what to do. 

*Next chapter: Chapter 8: People