The Need For Cybermissions Partnerships

At the moment cybermissions tends to be done by a few visionary organizations and individuals with some cross-pollination through online forums. There is much re-inventing of the wheel and struggling with finances and to some extent with technology. There are also a lot of websites build and abandoned by those who tried and failed. There is a need for more nurturing structures, for validation, encouragement and sharing of ideas, technologies and resources.

At the moment there is networking through groups such as the Internet Evangelism Coalition, IEC Global Forum, ICCM, ICTA-AU, MAF-XC , AC4 and Cybermissions.Org. People are gradually coming in contact and sharing ideas and opinions, and that is good. However these groups (while they are very valuable) do not construct strategic plans, make agreements or share resources. For that to happen true partnerships are needed.

Partnerships are relatively permanent structures that have a focus in a mutually agreed group task or objective. They often have a partnership agreement and a loose committee of some sort. The individual agencies agree to pursue the partnership objectives and yet each defines the amount that they are willing to contribute towards the process. (The principles of partnership exploration, formation and operation can be found at

4 Kinds

I foresee four kinds of partnerships that will arise to address these needs:

  1. National partnerships of cybermissions agencies in say Malaysia, Australia or Canada along the lines of and perhaps within the auspices of organizations like the Evangelical Alliance.
  2. People group specific partnerships where the cybermissionaries trying to target a groups such as post-modern Americans, Thai Buddhists or Iranian Muslims combine resources and develop a strategic plan to which they all work. (InterDev style for those familiar with this model)
  3. City-wide partnerships where the churches in a city combine to use the Internet strategically to network among each other and to reach groups within the city such as students and young people. A city-church website could even be developed such as “where to go to church in Tuscaloosa” with links to all the local church websites.
  4. Technology and task-based partnerships which could be focussed around a specific aspect of cybermissions such as Christian graphic artists, computer techs, Linux buffs and security gurus and could work on a project such as developing a particular piece of software.

Each of these four kinds of partnerships has a quite different dynamic suited for their different objectives. National partnerships might have an annual conference as the main partnership dynamic and emerge with a national strategic plan and set of standards. UPG cybermission partnerships might seldom meet face to face but would share knowledge, translation facilities and perhaps organize a joint short-term missions trip to the area. City-wide partnerships could meet bi-monthly and have pizza. Technology based partnership might be focussed around a SlashDot/SourceForge like forum that brings code snippets and comments together in an asynchronous fashion. And each of these types of partnerships are needed if we are to do the task effectively, its not either/or but all four!

Forming and Finding Partnerships

Firstly a partnership may already exist. A few times I have gone to form a partnership to find that there was one already operating! If there is one and its functional – then join in and help. Do a thorough Internet search and ask around a bit before deciding to start a cybermissions partnership.

Secondly don’t try and start with “everyone”. Let people hang around the edges for a while as they check you out and ask questions. Some may never join - that’s Ok too. Just move with the movers.

Thirdly – focus on the things, which unite, such as Jesus, the Great Commission, the vision, the need, and the technology and not on things that divide such as pet doctrines and personal opinions.

Fourthly decide on your limits of inclusion (for the partnership) before you start and stick to them. My personal limits of inclusion are “bible-believing, born-again Trinitarian Christians”.  Anywhere along that spectrum for evangelical to Pentecostal is fine with me but I don’t want to work with skeptical liberals or with people that are not born-again. For me that is being unequally yoked and when I have tried it – it has never worked.

Fifthly, decide on the type of partnership you wish to form and its crystal clear purpose. People find it hard to join a vague notion. And partnership for partnership sake nearly always fails.

Sixthly – read the material InterDev has developed on partnership formation (  and learn as much as you can about them.

Seventhly – pray without ceasing for blessing, unity, discernment  and wisdom.

This inevitable leads to another question – how can we motivate people to get involved?

Fifteen Ways To Motivate People To Engage in Cybermissions

  1. Create a climate of permission - make it permissible to engage in Internet missions and validate it as "real ministry".
  1. Tell stories of success, salvation and transformation.
  1. Show the needs, the opportunities and the possibilities and how cybermissions can meet them.
  1. Reassure people they are unlikely to be hacked, spied on or threatened by “online monsters”.
  1. Start small. Show that a highly effective, low cost, low risk cyber-ministry can even be done from home.
  1. Get pastors on board by using phrases such "How a local church can have a global outreach through cybermissions."
  1. Read the following article about local churches and cybermissions:
  1. Tie the cybermissions emphasis in with existing missions emphasis for instance if the church has Thai Buddhists as a target group then show how they can learn about, meet and witness to Thai Buddhists online.
  1. Create a small group of prayed up, fired up visionaries. Work mainly with businessmen and other energetic positive folk. Flow around the obstacles. Just ignore the critics and work with the people who have caught the vision.
  1. Give participants a meaningful role according to their gifting. (Don’t hog all the good bits)
  1. Don’t try to “own” people or groups or the area of cybermissions. Don’t hit people with strict rules and high demands and expectations. Give away control and give away the glory. Let people feel free to contribute on their own terms.
  1. Honor first efforts.  Many “newbie” church websites are easy to pick apart and criticize. Remember that we were all once “newbies” and proud of our animated gifs. Honor these efforts and gently nudge them towards better strategies and design. Sharp criticism early on is discouraging and if you engage in it you will lose such folk and all that they could have developed into.
  1. Create community, have fun, let people enjoy the experience. Don’t be too serious!
  1. Keep Christ central.  Unity around Christ is far more binding and powerful than unity around “missions”, a UPG or a technology.
  1. Soak the whole deal in prayer and let God the Holy Spirit do the deep work in their hearts and minds.

Final Thoughts

Unless we form focussed, task-oriented cybermissions partnerships we will all die from caffeine poisoning and pizza overdoses in front of our PC’s and Macs. Cybermissions is tough exhausting work and there has to be a smart way to spread the load, to avoid duplication and to use our various giftings.  Partnership is the obvious answer but the Devil will fight tooth and nail to stop such partnerships forming and to render them ineffective. We need to come to the Lord of the Harvest in prayer and ask for laborers – and especially for co-laborers who can work together, in unity to do the work of God.

More Cybermissions Articles

Cybermissions Main Page

Asian Internet Bible Institute