Dancing With Elephants: Accountability in Cross-Cultural Christian Partnerships

Author: Jonathan Rowe, Lecturer in Mission and Ethics, Seminario Evangélico Unido de Teología, El Escorial

Abstract:

Fifty years ago Max Warren declared: “Partnership is an idea whose time has not yet fully come”.1 Since then the rhetoric of cross-cultural Christian partnerships has reverberated incessantly through conference halls and down the corridors of mission agencies, finding expression in countless Church documents. Christians from the South, though, describe partnership with churches and agencies from the West as akin to dancing with elephants: too big, too powerful and too clumsy.2 In this article I will examine accountability, the crux of cross-cultural Christian partnership. My aim is to offer a reflection that enables practitioners of mission in churches and agencies from the North to work out what accountability means in their context. So, although unable to cease being elephants, they may learn to dance treading on fewer toes.

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