Partnership Continuum: Collaborating Partnerships
August 23, 2021
by Greg Henson, President; Shanda Stricherz, Chief Creative Officer; and Nate Helling, Chief Financial Officer
Over the last two weeks, we have looked at Legacy Partnerships and Integrated Partnerships. Today, we are going to share a bit about Collaborating Partnerships, which are the most prevalent type of partner within the global network of Kairos. Collaborating partners tend to have a program or ministry that provides some aspect of theological education, often focusing on particular contexts, expertise, Christian traditions, or content areas. The Kairos Platform, provides a wide array of opportunities for such partners ranging from marketing and promotion to sharing courses, content, and human resources to leveraging the Kairos Project to provide affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful journeys of education built around the unique expertise of the partner. Many options exist within this category which means an organization’s participation in the Kairos Network can often be customized to fit its particular needs. Collaborating partners leverage the “program development interface (PDI)” developed by Kairos to create wonderful and often highly-specialized learning opportunities for students.
In this post, we will share more details about Collaborating Partnerships, provide a few examples, and outline how such partners are identified, developed, implemented, and supported.
As is the case with Legacy and Integrated Partners, Collaborating Partners are identified through the day-to-day work that occurs within Kairos. As staff, mentors, faculty, and other partners engage in their work, we pay close attention to schools and ministries that seem to share a common commitment to affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful theological education. Rather than actively pursuing new collaborating partners, Kairos responds to opportunities and conversations that occur naturally in the course of our work. In doing so, we have learned that the primary characteristic of a potential collaborating partner is a deep commitment to theological education as, first and foremost, a journey of discipleship.
In practice, this means a collaborating partner is often already engaged in the work of theological education. This means that potential partners have programs or services designed to train, equip, and form participants in light of particular ministry contexts, Christian traditions, or aspects of leadership and formation. In most cases, collaborating partners choose to work with Kairos because it:
1) Is looking for a way for its program or service to be part of an accredited degree program. This includes looking for ways the program could be a graduate certificate or a portion of the path a student takes as part of a larger degree program.
2) Wants to create an opportunity for its participants to deepen and broaden the work they do by coupling it with additional learning and reflection opportunities provided by Kairos (e.g., working with a mentor team or engaging in additional content and learning experiences beyond those required by the partner’s program).
3) Provides an opportunity to share its work and learning experiences with a wider community. In this case, collaborating partners may have a program or service that it believes is useful for students within Kairos and wants to make that available to them by leveraging the program development interface.
Whatever the reason, a collaborating partner sees Kairos as a “co-worker in the vineyard” and believes working with Kairos will help it pursue its mission and serve a wider array of people in the process. In this arrangement, the collaborating partner works with Kairos because of the marketing and promotional opportunities it provides, the program specializations that are possible, and/or the specific expertise that can be brought to bear on a student’s journey of discipleship.
Once a school identifies itself as potential collaborating partner or responds positively to such an invitation from Kairos, the conversation moves into the development stage.
During the development stage, the potential partner enters into a mutual discernment process with Kairos. It is in this stage that we work together to consider the specific aspects of the partnership (e.g., program specializations, access to expertise, marketing/promotional opportunities). As we learn more about what it possible and discern what God might be inviting us to do together, we outline this information in a partnership overview document. Such a document is not a formal agreement or anything like that. Rather, it outlines the high-level aspects of the implementation process so that others who were not part of the conversation can understand and engage in the implementation process.
When the partnership overview document has been completed, we move into the implementation stage of the process.
The implementation process happens in two phases:
1) Process and Personnel Alignment – Using the partnership overview document as the guide, this phase focuses on wrapping up the details related to the partnership. In particular, we work together to succinctly outline the process by which students within Kairos can participate in programs or services offered by the partner and/or how participants in the partner’s program can bring those experiences into certificate or degree programs offered by Kairos. To ensure this process runs smoothly, the partner identifies one of their staff/team members to be the “partner liaison” that functions as the primary connection between the partner and the Kairos team.
2) Planning and Communication – Once everything is outlined and understood fully, we move into the planning and communication phase. It is here that we work together to outline how the partnership will be communicated internally and externally. Our goal is to clearly articulate the functional aspects of the partnership (i.e., how the program works, what students/participants will experience, etc.). Finally, we share that with the requisite audiences through appropriate means.
The work of discipleship is something that must happen in community which is one of the reasons Kairos is committed to building and sustaining a wealth of partnerships. The community in which a disciple is formed has a profound formational impact on that disciple, and we want to ensure there is an appropriate fit between the community and the vocational goals of each student.
As a result, the support stage of all partnerships is ongoing. Even after programs, processes, communication, and all of the day-to-day operations are fully operational, the work of supporting collaborating partners does not end.
As a community of Jesus followers, Kairos is focused on creating a global network of theological education that is affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful. Collaborating Partnerships create a strong network that can support and leaven this global network.
A few of the current collaborating partners in Kairos are Gospel Depth, VantagePoint3, Dinner Church Collective, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Cascade School of Theology, and the Transforming Center.
Join us next week as we look at operating partners!