“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”
This inherited wisdom from our mothers applies not only to surviving adolescence, but also cultivating organizational partnerships that truly thrive.
You see, one of the things we’ve learned over the last few years is that churches (and organizations) can get really excited about the idea of partnership to better leverage their physical space. A church will love the idea of welcoming in a food shelf or an addiction recovery agency or fill-in-the-blank. It’s truly invigorating to envision an underutilized space finding new life, to imagine neighbors walking through the church’s doors for the first time as they access new resources made available through this collaborative use of space.
On paper and in theory, what’s not to love? Sounds like fun!
Well, yes and…
The truth is that collaboration is good work (in fact, we believe the best work is done collaboratively), but it is also hard work. Sometimes really hard work. In fact, the biggest challenges we’ve bumped into have resulted from partnerships where there wasn’t alignment around key values or expectations. Sometimes there was a level of awareness regarding the misalignment heading into the partnership; other times there wasn’t.
Either way, when there isn’t alignment on core values, partnerships are less fruitful, more prone to fall apart, and in the worst cases, cause unnecessary stress and pain for all parties involved.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
And when the stakes are as high as they are in this work of placemaking—of bridging church and community so that all may flourish—we want to do all that we can to avoid the hurt.
We’ve learned along the way to build into our process some thorough exercises to help churches identify the values that are vitally important to them when they consider sharing their space, and we’ve also developed more robust practices to help churches vet potential partners. Because when there is alignment on the most important things, it’s easier to work through the lesser things (like space scheduling conflicts or messy microwaves).
In the work of placemaking, we want everyone to win: churches, community-facing organizations, and our neighbors.
Identifying and aligning on the most important things is the crucial first step.
Learning as we go,