50/50 Partnership - It’s A Relationship, Not An Experience

How often do you feel it to be necessary to solve a problem quickly?  For me, it’s all the time.  I’m just not patient.  It’s one of my “growing” edges.  While serving as a United Methodist missionary in the Baltic States, often I was told, “Don’t be in such a hurry.”  My friends were graciously telling me to value their time, and by extension their friendship.  My inclination was to stay busy, moving from experience to experience without pausing for reflection.  There was too much to do and I had no time to waste.

In serving with others from different cultures and socio-economic situations, time is the greatest challenge and blessing of all.  It’s like a relationship with an old friend.  It takes a long time to get to the place where you understand each other without speaking.  In cross-cultural ministry whether in the U.S. or abroad, the goal is not only to grasp local customs or speak the language, but to catch the nuances of feeling, understand humor and communicate without words.  It takes time to build this kind of understanding and trust with a stranger who may be poor or in crisis.  Are we willing to give our time?  For Americans, it may be the most precious commodity of all.  “Time is money” you know.  If we want our short-term experiences to grow into long term relationships with those with whom we seek to be in service, then we have to slow down, stop doing and start being with others.

Partnership is all about relationships.  If I give 20 percent and you give 80 percent of your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness, then you will eventually decide it’s not worth it to partner with me.  One-sided partnerships have a short shelf life!  But if both sides covenant to a 50/50 partnership, then you no longer just see the needs but also the assets your partner brings to the table.  A healthy, balanced partnership/relationship opens the door for long term impact through God’s grace.

A New Paradigm of Partnership

In Mission Together (IMT) is a global partnership network available to help equip your conference, district or church for transformational mission engagement in the US and around the world.  Whereas a traditional approach to mission is often needs-based, short-term relief, the In Mission Together vision of partnership embraces asset-based, long-term development.  Partners commit to one another through an IMT 50/50 Partnership Covenant to participate equally, 50/50, as the body of Christ by utilizing everyone’s skills and resources.  A 50/50 framework prevents dependency and fosters self-sufficiency.  It addresses systemic issues rather than just treating symptoms. The principles of the covenant and five core values put you on track for collaborative long term impact. We encourage you to have a day-one conversation with your mission partner based on the covenant that will create a framework for your ministry together.

For example, how would the following principle change how you are engaged in mission?  

The partners set aside their own agendas and create a collective vision for the ministry or project together.  As with any relationship,each participant brings God-given gifts, whether spiritual, physical or mental, tangible or intangible, which will be honored and appreciated equally - 50/50. 

Another principle from the covenant encourages restraint on the part of the outsider to create space for the insider who lives in the community and needs to cast the vision and have ownership for the ministry or project.

We pledge not to do for the other what they can do for themselves.  We gladly serve each other as Christ has served us, with humility, love and encouragement, building a strong foundation for the ministry together.

In Mission Together is GLOCAL (both global and local) and equips you for cross-cultural ministry in variety of contexts whether in the US or around the world. One example of how this approach is changing hearts and minds is through our collaboration with church leaders to plant new communities of faith outside the United States. These Mission Initiatives are unique in many ways, but mostly because they are places where The United Methodist Church is new to the population.

You can partner with a church in a Mission Initiative country through the IMT Partnership Program.  We have a team of IMT Partnership Coordinators available to assist and train you in the development of a 50/50 partnership. 

For more information on IMT and the 50/50 Covenant, please visit our website:


*The phrase, “It’s a Relationship, Not an Experience”, is borrowed from the video, “Restore,” produced by Life Church TV. The video, in three parts, can be found on You Tube: Part 1:; Part 2:; Part 3:  The video is derived at least in part from the book, When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Finkkert.


  1. Patrick Friday says:
    Thank you for your comment. All persons called to be in ministry with the poor are encouraged to learn about the challenges faced by those living in poverty as a first step towards engagement. The simulation course is one example of the training being offered for empowering others without creating dependency.
    Aug 21st, 2013
  2. Mark West says:
    I read a story on the GBGM site several months ago about how IMT leaders were trained at a place where they spent a night in simulated poor people's houses. In other words, they couldn't relate to real poor people, they had to pretend to relate to poor people. Poverty became a sort of Disneyland experience. I'm sorry, but that kind of experience is exactly the opposite of what the Ministry With* emphasis is supposed to be all about. Let these people have their VIM teams and yearly conferences, but don't try to pretend the program is about wrestling with the real world implications of poverty.
    Jun 25th, 2013
  3. makaza david says:
    i found a lot of interesting information about my church. please keep me informed
    Nov 12th, 2013

Patrick Friday

Rev. Patrick Friday, Director of In Mission Together at the General Board of Global Ministries, leads a global partnership network of coordinators, conferences, districts and churches engaged in transformative partnerships in mission.  He provided leadership for the development of the 50/50 Covenant which fosters a long-term, asset-based approach to church planting, spiritual formation, community development, communication through social networking, dependency prevention and self-sufficiency promotion.  Patrick has over twenty years of experience in pastoral leadership, missionary service, church planting and partnership development.  He lived in the Baltic States and Russia as a church planter and leadership developer with his wife, Hannah.  They have twin boys, Clint and Sam.  He received his MDiv degree from Candler School of Theology and is an ordained elder of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.    

About This Blog

Read and comment on a range of personal reflections and perspectives about poverty and Ministry with the Poor. Our goal is to attract diverse voices and points of view from United Methodists and friends, including people and communities living in conditions of poverty, other experts, religious leaders, community organizers, advocates, policy makers, volunteers, and all engaged in Ministry with the Poor.