Engage Magazine has a great article on the development of church partnerships
Our church is diving into this kind of opportunity. We have a trip of five leaders (and a sixth person who is acting as our guide and Partnership Coordinator) headed to Guatemala to "scout" a possible partnership in May. It's something we prayed about during a period of discernment last year, and I'm very excited that several in our church have embraced it. Despite the fact that most precedence for this kind of thing involves churches with many more members than ours, I believe that we can do it. We have the resources, the experience, and certainly the call.
We've seen quite a bit of "discussion" on Naznet (and elsewhere) regarding the need for shifting resources, ideas, and paradigms in the CotN as it pertains to missions. While partnerships are tangentially related to missions in that it connects culture to culture, I'm not sure that it's exactly the "next generation" of missions as we've known it. For instance, in our own situation, we've been focusing on the hope that a partnership with a congregation outside our culture and life experience will help shape and form us by the Holy Spirit in unexpected ways that cannot be replicated by conferences, worship seminars, sermon series, and Bible Studies. Our understanding is that the Church is growing by the Spirit in other world areas. Part of my hope is that in interacting with them, we might be challenged and encouraged to a fearlessness in our own context in the States.
The fact may be that there is no next generation of NMI, and it needs to die. As much of the original intention of evangelical missions has been fulfilled in relation to "the ends of the earth" (though certainly not exhaustively), how and what the Church does throughout the world needs to be seen differently. I hope and believe that partnerships are one way to help us shift. It's certainly not for everyone, but I wonder if there are many more churches out there that might be candidates for a church partnership.