Cultivating Trusted Partnerships


‘Well that did not go as we expected!”

“I thought we were on the same page. What went wrong?” 

“Wow, I thought we cared about the same things!”


These are all things I have heard (or said) about partnerships with both people and organizations in the past. So how do we do this better and more effectively, even as it seems to be getting harder. 

In an increasingly fragmented world, both globally and locally, it seems harder every day to build healthy relationships and partnerships, particularly when we may not share core beliefs and philosophies.


When we launched Citygate In April, we made four commitments for our work and for the network we are serving. Those commitments are:

  • Set a Big Table
  • Form People Holistically
  • Cultivate Trusted Partnerships
  • Do Justice Wisely


In June we walked into the first commitment, Set a BIg Table, with Missy Wallace and Geoff Hsu, where we unpacked the concept of common grace as a foundational belief in how we view the world. We also talked about the difference between a ‘Bounded Set” mindset and a “Center Set” mindset. Bounded set requires that we believe the same things, whereas the center set is focused on the things we care about in common, but does not require shared belief. 


In August we invited David Bailey in to share with us his powerful framework for Forming People Holistically in becoming reconciling communities. David’s process starts with deep discipleship and heart formation as a the precedent for cultural and civic engagement as well as reconciliation work. 


This month we took a ‘masterclass’ from Stephanie Summers on Cultivating Trusted Partnerships. Steph leads the Center for Public Justice, which does policy and advocacy work in Washington DC, all born out of their deeply held Christian beliefs. CPJ partners with all kinds of organizations who may not share their beliefs at all, but who desire to work together on a shared issue of mutual importance. 


Here is a brief overview of the 5 fundamentals Steph outlined in building partnerships of trust and mutuality.


  1. Be people of integrity- name the things we do not agree on, engage people directly when there is disagreement, and commit to the group- we don’t kick anyone out. 
  2. Partners are people, not transactions. We must invest up front in the relationships before we seek to engage around an issue.
  3. Be clear on what the issues are and what they really want- DO NOT ASSUME.
  4. Listen to understand, achieve disagreement and operate from the place of common grace
  5. Put it in writing. A simple MOU that memorializes where we agree, where we do not and what the core, shared issue is that we will partner around. 

You can listen to the entire lab discussion here. And have a pen and paper ready to go- you will take lots of notes!


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