The American megachurch pastor had the best intentions when he promised a fledgling sister church in Eastern Europe to do "everything in his power" to help them build a sanctuary. After he returned to the U.S., the European church scraped and borrowed to come up with $50,000 and start construction. After all, they were sister churches. In their culture, family members looked after each other. They knew from the American church's website that the Americans were spending $6 million on a café and vestibule, so surely they would come through on their pledge to help pay for the small building.
Unfortunately not. The American pastor stopped returning e-mails and phone calls. Six months later, the European church got an answer: The pastor had been unable to "sell" his congregation on the idea. The European congregation felt deeply betrayed; their leader began to seriously question his faith.
As the body of Christ has thrived in the two-thirds world, cross-cultural partnerships between churches "here" and "there" are increasingly common. As a missionary in Central Asia for several years, I witnessed many times the fruit of such partnerships. But the pitfalls are real, particularly when money is involved.
In Cross-Cultural Partnerships: Navigating the Complexities of Money and Mission (InterVarsity), Mary Lederleitner tackles these issues with her considerable experience and education. Trained as a CPA, Lederleitner has served long-term with ministries in the U.S. and overseas. As a result, her book is eminently practical, filled with eyewitness stories of successes and failures in cross-cultural settings.
For example, Lederleitner suggests that churches adopt accounting practices that make sense in the ministry's context. If ...