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Signing up as missionaries: building partnership

When I began this series in 2010, we were part way through the CMS Australia application process. Now we’re nearing the end of the final stage, the five-month intercultural training course.

For the past few years, however, we’ve been working on partnerships. One dimension of this is the online tools we’ve been using, from the most distant level of communication to the most intimate…

What does friendship feel like to you? How do you build rapport with other people?

1. The Twitter layer. Like a billboard, this is the most public and long-range level of communication, the level of ‘networking’ and information exchange. The offline equivalent might include once-off preaching or conference talks. (Read more about how I’ve been using Twitter here.)

2. The Facebook layer. Similar to your front yard or back fence, this is where we join in with others’ everyday happenings, listening to what they’re up to. There might be a lot of small talk but there’s also sharing of lives and mutual encouragement!

3. The blog layer. Like a cafe or pub, this blog is where we think out loud, giving people a window into things we’ve been experiencing or working through. While this level of communication is public, it’s also a little more targeted: it’s both issues-based and personal — although we don’t want to bore you with a personal diary!

4. The MailChimp layer. This is like our living room, the circle of supporters and colleagues whom we email each month. The important thing is that it’s opt-in. Each person on this list has asked to participate because of a personal connection we have with them.

The MailChimp layer is where our support base lies: the good quality friendships, the sort of people who know us, who will go the distance with us, and in whom we want to invest ourselves.

At the same time, MailChimp tells us that only around 70% of these supporters read our emails on any given month. Now, that doesn’t mean there’s 30% letting us down each month, but it is an indicator of how hard we need to work at relationships — MailChimp will never do the job for us!

Partnership means friendship, and MailChimp is where we speak freely as friends: What does our week look like? What tasks are before us? To what end? How will we get there? We share our short- and long-term goals, our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and struggles. We’re trying to do the sort of thing that shows through in the letters of Paul: to be hung up on people and relationships at every turn.

5. The email/Skype/chat layer. Well, it’s not quite the bedroom, but this is the closest level of sharing and accountability! We use email, Skype and chat for a variety of purposes, but one thing we can use them for is the ‘pastoral friendship’ which CMS Australia requires us to have. This is a friendship with a long-term confidante in pursuit of us staying fit and in-tune (spiritually, physically, emotionally).

Categories: Tanzania Uncategorized Written by Arthur

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Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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