Each generation is tasked with developing new and effective models of collaboration that invite students, the church, and all the various stakeholders within a system of theological education to collectively participate in the mission of God.
As we steward followers of Jesus who flourish in their vocations and engage in the work of partnership and collaboration, the focus is on working with others to make known the Kingdom of God. It’s not about what we “own,” or who we are. We seek to discern and follow the Holy Spirit and respond to the opportunities for partnership that appear along the way. In doing so, we discover others who have a shared heart for God’s work.
We have created a partnership framework that 1) helps us think through how we discern and implement collaborative initiatives or partnerships and 2) provides a continuum of partnership possibilities.
When considering potential partnerships, we engage in the process of discernment by asking the following questions:
With this question, we are discerning how well a partnership aligns with the work to which God is inviting the Kairos community to engage in. We use the phrase “strategic direction” rather than “strategic plan” because we do not pretend to control the future. Rather, we are constantly seeking to discern the direction in which God is calling the community. These conversations about strategic alignment are wonderful opportunities to see how God is weaving together the people of God to engage in the mission of God. We refer to these as questions of strategic alignment.
When we have discerned there is strategic alignment, we then consider the operational requirements for a given partnership. Because we want to honor those with whom we partner, we want to ensure that we have the capacity and bandwidth to adequately collaborate with each partner according to the needs and expectations of that partner. In these conversations we address any financial, legal, or accreditation realities, as well as system or process integration or support. We refer to these as questions of systems alignment.
Finally, we take time to consider how will we steward each partnership once it begins. We take seriously our commitment to partnership and collaboration so we work to ensure that a partnership starts well, is supported over time, and that lessons are learned from each and every partner within the movement. By engaging in these questions of stewardship alignment, we are continually reminded that we are stewards of God’s abundant blessings rather than owners or managers of finite resources.
The questions listed above help the Kairos community discern where God might be leading in terms of partnership and collaboration. As Kairos has grown and taken shape, we have learned that partnerships with other kingdom-minded ministries exist on a continuum. On one end of the continuum a partnership becomes more like a union and on the other end it is a commitment to sharing resources, processes, or personnel.
Below is a brief description of the four primary categories on that continuum.
Legacy partners are are institutions that have ceded management and governance to Kairos University.Like a school within a university or brand within a larger company, legacy partners become part of Kairos University. Their heritage, unique identity, and stakeholders are preserved. Legacy partners join Kairos because they feel the best way to fulfill their mission is to partner with a community committed to a similar vision.
The most common partner in the Kairos Network, Collaborating Partners work with the Network in several different ways ranging from sharing courses, degrees, and human resources to leveraging the Kairos Project to provide affordable, accessible, and accredited 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 needs.
Finally, Operational Partners are related to many of the back-office functions of education. In some cases, it means sharing costs with another organization or working together to provide a service to students. In other cases, it means finding ways to reduce costs by sharing services or software packages.
Integrated partners are an increasingly common partner in Kairos. They leverage most aspects of Kairos while continuing to be separate legal entities with their own governance, institutional authority, and management structures.