Author: P. James | Reprinted with permission
How to Form a Partnership to Reach a Specific People Group
India has about 4,635 people groups. Many are yet to be reached with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the effective ways of reaching the unreached is through a People Group approach.
A People Group may be defined as:
“an ethno linguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. There are two parts to that word: ethno and linguistic. Language is a primary and dominant identifying factor of a people group. But there are other factors that determine or are associated with ethnicity. There is a sense of common identity of individuals identified with the group. A common history, customs, family and clan identities, as well as marriage rules and practices, age-grades and other obligation covenants, and inheritance patterns and rules are some of the common ethnic factors defining or distinguishing a people.”
If we have to reach the whole person for Christ, then there should be partnership between different ministries like radio, literature, Bible translation, correspondence courses, to name a few, and also the local churches. There is a biblical mandate for working together. Passages like Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians encourages the Body of Christ to work together in unity. Our impact for the Lord is minimized because the world sees a fragmented Body rather than a united Body!
In order to reach a particular People Group (like Marwaris, Sindhis, Lingayats) etc., a coordinated strategy to work together will be very useful. We call this working in partnership. Partnership could be defined as a “close working relationship between individuals and/or organizations, who agree to work together for a specific purpose because they can achieve more together than by themselves.”
There are at least three stages in developing a partnership. Partnerships do not come naturally – they take time and effort to develop.
Stage 1: Exploration Stage
If you decide to reach a particular People Group, you need to research the following:
People Group –
- Where are they located, what is their economic, political and religious situation, spiritual openness, etc.
Ministries working with the People Group –
- Who is working among the People Group?
- Who is planning to work among them?
- What work is being done that is having an impact?
- What tools are available? Scripture portions, films, radio, audio cassettes, etc.
- What churches have “adopted” the People Group for prayer support or for other forms of support and involvement?
Stage 2: Formation Stage
This is the activity of bringing people and ministries together to plan and work in partnership. After doing the above research, you identify people, ministries, churches who are sympathetic towards reaching the particular People Group and invite them for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to build relationships, develop trust, to see how each ministry fits into the bigger picture of ministry, to see if there is an interest in working together, to identify specific ways of working together.
When the members present at this meeting agree to work together to focus on reaching this particular group with some action plan, then it could be said that a partnership is now formed.
Stage 3: Operation Stage
This is the stage of working together, implementing joint strategies and objectives, and developing the partnership to its fullest potential.
In the recent past, some “People Group”-focused partnerships have been started. These include peoples such as the Lingayats, Sindhis, Banjaras, Coorgi, Bhojhpuri, Kashmiri and others. God is using these partnership efforts to draw more people to Himself.
Working together has many advantages:
- We can be better stewards of resources God has given us.
- We can focus on our strengths and not on our weaknesses.
- We can do more together than we can do on our own (greater synergy).
- When we work with others, it is more encouraging for us.
Partnership is, therefore, not a choice for the 21st century church; it should be a way of life in order to enhance our witness for Christ.
Here below is a playlist of short video interviews with some additional reflections on:
- The Critical Role of Partnership Facilitators
- The Exploration Stage
- Building Consensus From the Beginning