Biblical Partnership

Partnership in Mission: A Biblical and Theological Perspective (Revised)

Partnership in Mission: A Biblical and Theological Perspective

Dr. Atul Aghamkar, Ph.D., wrote this paper to challenge the church in India to approach ministry partnership with renewed seriousness. He presented it at the Interdev conference in Bangalore, India that convened April 11-15, 2016. He has continued to update and refine this paper. His latest revision as of June 5, 2017 is posted below.

In this intriguing article, Dr. Aghamkar spends considerable time establishing the biblical and theological basis for partnership and co-working with God. He then digs into unity and fellowship as biblical expressions of partnership in ministry.

Building on this foundation, he goes on to explore the Apostle Paul’s unique model of ministry partnership with its focus on the house church, family, and key individuals as centers of witness and evangelism.

With India’s cultural emphasis on community and relationship, Dr. Aghamkar makes a case that the Indian church should consider adapting this biblical model of partnership throughout India for greater mission impact.

This article is an excellent resource for network leaders and church planters looking for models of partnership and ministry in Southeast Asia. Readers will also be intrigued by the way that Dr Aghamkar builds a biblical and theological case for partnership as “Koinonia” in ministry.

Download Article:

  1. Partnership in Mission: A Biblical and Theological Perspective (Revised June 5,
  2. Partnership in Mission: A Biblical and Theological Perspective [PDF]  



  • “Paul’s comprehensive model of partnership provides significant and comprehensive insights into how such partnerships should be initiated, put into practice, and nurtured so as to make a missional difference in contemporary India.
  • “…that unity was intended to provide a convincing testimony, a believable platform upon which the gospel might be preached, so that the world would believe that the Father sent the Son. Therefore, where there is an absence of unity or the presence of conflict among believers, a convincing foundation for Gospel mission must, consequently, be lacking or absent.”
  • “It seems that koinonia is the New Testament word that is nearest in meaning to the English word, “partnership.”13 Warren concurs with this translation, stating that koinonia indicates both partnership and intimate fellowship.
  • “The task of Christian witness among Indian population will never be effectively undertaken unless Christian leaders form mission teams and develop strong networks.”
  • “Although Paul did not neglect individuals in his evangelistic approach, he strongly focused on the family as a total unit. Learning from his family-centered approach, special attention must be given to developing family-based approaches to Christian witness among the Indians.”



Atul Aghamkar, PhD. Partnership in Mission: A Biblical/Theological Perspective. The Partnership Institute. Interdev India, Presented April 11-15, 2016 in Bangalore, India. Revised June 5, 2017.

Atul Aghamkar, PhD. Partnership in Mission: A Biblical/Theological Perspective. The Partnership Institute. Interdev India, Presented April 11-15, 2016 in Bangalore, India.

4 thoughts on “Partnership in Mission: A Biblical and Theological Perspective (Revised)

  1. Babu Rao

    This is one of the best article that I have come across, emphasising Biblical Partnership. I am involved in Network Ministry for few years and observed that in India we do have challenges to implement these principles at grass roots, since partnership has been project oriented to many of the church planters. They don’t have skills to implement these ta house church settings. I wish our leaders grasp these truth, so that Gospel will impact our Nation.

  2. Mark J. Avery

    I enjoyed this article and would like to have it as a resource for a course I teach on partnership development. I see partnership as the only viable response to a certain type of problem– one that is systemic, complex, interactive and persistent. From human trafficking in a region, to reaching an unreached people group, to single motherhood; these are system-level problems that directly touch the heart of God because they directly affect people He loves. For these kinds of situations, partnership is our only viable option if our vision statements (not just our mission statements) are to be realized. As the Church. we do indeed steward, as the Body of Christ, the latent capacity of the whole, as a Body (not just a set of parts, each for itself). When the reality of that sinks in, it changes everything.

  3. J. Nelson Jennings

    As one would expect from Dr. Aghamkar, this is a carefully constructed exhortation that considers multiple interrelated facets, including biblical-theological instruction, strategic considerations, context-specific grounding, and Kingdom impact passion. Thank you, Atul!

  4. Jay Matenga

    Forgive me brothers and sisters if this response reads a little volcanic. I’m in the final phases of writing my doctoral thesis for Fuller’s SIS and this subject features large in my work, seeking to “counterpoint” Individualist and Collectivist relationship perspectives in the missions community toward “Mutuality of Belonging”. I am thrilled to have stumbled on Dr. Aghamkar’s contribution before I submitted because his is a collectivist perspective rarely heard and it is to me like gold. However, over my four years of research on the subject and 20+ years of global missions involvement, I have become increasingly concerned about the individualistic hegemony that persists in dominating missions thinking and praxis when the majority of the missions force is now more likely to be collectivist. I myself am a hybrid – of European and Maori decent so I’m caught in the middle.

    With that context, my appeal is: would that we could move away from Occidental linguistic constructs like “Partnership” that restrict expressions of a deeper intercultural Christian fellowship in mission – perhaps then we would see Dr. Aghamkar’s contribution for the revolutionary perspective it can provide. The very terminology of “partnership”, however, constrains what is possible to discuss and have understood about the subject. If we have to speak of these things in English then can we not reframe our understanding with something like Sherwood Lingenfelter’s “Covenant Communities” or “Covenant Mission Communities” (from his book “Leading Cross-Culturally”)? Let’s use something better than “Partnership” because the very premise of the word biases the concept to an individualistic interpretation, which Luis Bush (and later reinforced by Daniel Rickett) has forever enshrined as requiring “two or more autonomous bodies”.

    I realise I’m pushing against 25+ years of accepted missions praxis here, but collectivist thinkers generally do not automatically interpret partnership the way individualists/Occidental thinkers do and it does us all a disservice to expect them to use terms that have such strong individualistic presuppositions. The assumption of autonomous bodies does not naturally translate outside Occidental ways of thinking. Mary Lederleitner makes this point well in “Cross-Cultural Partnerships”. By persisting on using the buzzwords, as Aghamkar calls them, is it any surprise that the concepts don’t ‘stick’ in places like South Asia as Aghamkar laments?

    The unity Aghamkar admirably exegetes from the Scriptures is corrupted as soon as an assumption is made that it is between two (or more) autonomies entities inferred by the word “partnership”. This is Aghamkar’s achilles heel as it is with most partnership strategies. The Scriptures simply do not agree with this assumption. Quite the contrary. The assumption of deep covenantal unity is the start point for common participation in mission. As Wan et al have tried to argue (although I don’t think they went far enough) the common unity of the Trinity ought to be our foundational assumption for interpreting koinonia. John records Jesus indicating this in John 13 and especially 17. The Apostle Paul also assumed this level of intimacy too, and to interpret Paul’s examples common unity as something as superficial as partnership is to do a great disservice to the Apostle’s teaching. Aghamkar’s preference for Occidental commentators on the subject probably doesn’t help either.

    ‘Covenantal common unity in action’ must start with common identity not with separate autonomy. As a wise old missions professor once told me, “your starting point will always determine where you end up” (I’m sure he stole that from some East Asian philosopher). Perhaps if we started from a different assumption we would end up with some very different outcomes, much more resonant with the type of fellowship Aghamkar recognises is there in the biblical text.

    Now… just don’t get me started on “Team” nomenclature! :D

    Soli Deo gloria.


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