With a biblical vision for the city, it becomes easier to identify the interests we have in common with city government, non-profit organizations, volunteer groups, and other institutions. This allows us to join hands for the benefit of the community. When non-Christians are working on projects that promote God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven, Christians can collaborate.
The church can be actively engaged in society to promote God’s shalom. Christians can love their city in every sector of society: with the government, through their businesses, in education, helping families, with non-profit organizations, through arts and sports, and in the healthcare sector. The vision is too big to do it alone. We must work together across organizational, denominational, cultural, and personal boundaries.
Partnership is the key strategy to community development. Networking is the method by which to foster partnerships. They are similar, but with a notable difference in purpose. Phil Butler explains:
“Any group of individuals or organizations sharing a common interest, who regularly communicate with each other to enhance their individual purposes.”
“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.”
Everyone in every sector loves networking because it benefits their own purpose. Partnering requires a higher commitment to each other for a common vision. Together more can be done. Networks, however, provide fertile ground for the seeds of partnerships to be sown, to sprout, and to bear fruit. For example, the CityPartners network organizes the “Love Hanoi” conferences with this purpose in mind: to forge partnerships. Phil Butler has developed an excellent model for city-wide ministry networks, shown in the following diagram:
Through the work of CityPartners, unique partnerships have been established over recent years. To name a few:
The US Embassy provides scientific training for Christian rehabilitation centers
The Festival Youth Committee has joined HIF in partnership with Keep Hanoi Clean and many other partners to clean up parks and public areas with government approval
The first Christian recovery home for trafficked women is being established through partnership
A roundtable forum on anti-human trafficking was organized with embassies, NGOs and Christian charities sharing their experiences.
This is a new kind of big. Churches of any size can partner together and join other organizations and institutions to transform their communities. Our common goal is to seek the peace of the city.