Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Training that reproduces and spreads like a vine

He who does the work is not so profitably employed as he who multiplies the doers. —John R. Mott (1865–1955).[1] In 1902 Andrew Murray widely publicized the observation that one discipler, winning one person to Christ each year and building them up to do the same in successive generations, would win the whole world in just 32 years.[2] Jesus invested in twelve and sent them to teach the world, one generation at a time. Paul includes four generations in his instructions to Timothy to pass on by investing in capable and faithful disciples (2 Tim. 2:2). So Murray and Mott were simply reflecting on the potential impact of a biblical principle.

In this Coach’s Corner, let’s look at the relationship between training and multiplication. Let’s be honest. Often our training is strong on content and weak on reproduction. I am increasingly convinced that if those who receive training don’t run to pass on the things they have learned, something is lacking. I realize some are involved in formal training that is not so easily reproduced. But something should be passed-on intentionally; trickle-down learning rarely works.
For multiplication to take place, we need intentional training with a “generational perspective.”

First generation: Outsiders launch the training in partnership with local leaders. They are catalysts, while local leaders assist and learn.

Second generation: Church planters who have put the training into practice serve as trainers and outsiders as helpers and advisors.

Third generation: The training is entirely owned and deployed by the national movement. Outsiders are distant advisors and prayer partners.
I just came across the story of Ying Kai. He started church planting in the year 2000 and, after planting one house church per year, he realized he could accomplish more for Christ by training church planters. Later he decided to train trainers of church planters. Recently he co-authored T4T (training for trainers) with Steve Smith and the book was published last year. Hope you’ll take a look at his God-sized story: http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/training-for-trainers-process

We also have our own unfolding story of training multiplication. At the 2009 Africa Conference, Dr. Craig Ott from TEDS spoke on Foundations for Church Multiplication. After the conference, he was asked to teach the same material in the Congo to almost 1,000 pastors. What an opportunity! But he replied that, David Kiamu the Church Planting Director for ReachAfrica and its president, Nubako Selenga, could develop and teach training material better suited for Africa. Not everyone agreed. But they went ahead and spoke in the conference in Congo DR.

As a result they received invitations to train church planters throughout the Congo. Dave wrote Church Multiplication Church Planter Training. With it they trained eighty-one people in Lomé Togo later that year. God blessed and multiplication has been taking place as you will see in this January 2012 report from Nubako Selenga:

"The ReachAfrica multiplication church planters training material for level 1 and 2 are already available in English, French and Portuguese. Level 3 on healthy churches is already in preparation. In 2011, we were able to use Level 1 to train 1,095 as first generation church planters in 8 countries and 136 new churches were planted. In July 2012, the training of Master trainers will take place in Liberia and Kinshasa. We have already planned to launch level 1 this year in: Burkina-Faso, Bangui, Chad, Mozambique, Kampala and Angola. The Mission Equipping Center started last year in Liberia and soon, the second will be launched in Kinshasa. In DR Congo, God is opening a big door for us through the leaders of the Church of Christ in Congo, ECC. The ECC is an association of 67 different denominations that have committed to work together as Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical, Mennonite, etc. The vision of these leaders is to double the number of churches in DRC from 2011-2016. They have asked ReachAfrica to help them with church planting training."

 The training spread from two countries in 2010 to ten by 2012. Dave and Selenga will launch the Masters Trainer training in both West Africa (Monrovia Liberia) and East Africa (Kinshasa) in July and I will have the privilege of helping them. So much has been has been accomplished with two Master Trainers. Imagine what will take place with twenty-five more!  Another example comes from Vietnam. Craig Ott, Mark Wold and Gene Wilson launched the church planter training in three cities from 2010-2012 in partnership with Bless Vietnam Initiative (BVI). During that time the leader of BVI identified potential trainers and sites for church planter training centers.

In April BVI organized a consultation with a handful of potential Vietnamese trainers (John Yoder and Gene Wilson facilitated). Trainers were chosen for most of the training centers, but it will take time to deploy them. A permanent ministry center in central Vietnam will be used to train the trainers who will then deploy the training in five church-based training centers along the coast. One recent trainee turned down a pastoral situation to set up the training center in the North as a missionary trainer. In May 2012 two Vietnamese trainers conducted the first totally Vietnamese church planter training.  

We still have a long way to go but, here are some practical lessons we have learned along the way:

1.      Reproducible training (R.T.) must be principle-based, biblically sound and should include field-tested fruitful practices. The content must be solid and avoid methodology. That is developed by the church planting teams as they apply the principles to their ministry focus people.

2.      R. T. is a process. Sequencing and timing are important. The best training is modular with time between training events to reflect and try out the principles. How much time should there be between level 1 and level 2 training? How will level 2 training build on level 1?

3.      The process of finding indigenous trainers should begin as early as possible. Trainers should have experience applying the training, so that are credible and don’t teach conflicting ideas. In Africa, Master trainers are chosen from among those who fit a profile, have applied the level 1 training and have taught it to others.

4.      R.T. must be simple and practical so that church planters can go out and begin to apply and implement it from day 1. Initially the training was wedded to T-Net Training. But proved to be too wooden and long. The workshop should include blocks of time to plan and discuss ideas with peers.

5.      R.T. should be developed “in context” or contextualized as early as possible. It should be offered in the local language with a manual that can be copied inexpensively. Only technologies (PowerPoint, etc.) that are commonly available should be used.

6.      R.T. should be financed locally. In Africa people sleep on mattresses on the floor of church buildings and cook on charcoal under a tree to keep cost manageable. Training for Trainers may require financial help to bring in key leaders and potential trainers from other regions. But local church planter training is funded locally.

7.      Success is not measured by the size of the training events, but by the successive generations of training. The average number of church planters at an event is only 30. But that makes it more manageable and accessible. Church planter training should be taken to other cities and regions, instead of having planters from those regions travel long distances.

8.      Each time the training is offered there should be an evaluation with these goals in mind: 1- adaptation to the local culture, 2- solid, reproducible content, 3- delivery style (narrative, interactive, etc.), and 4- viability and reproducibility (not primarily comfort & quality of speakers)

9.      Non-formal and informal training should be combined for greater effectiveness. How will church planters be encouraged, coached or mentored as they apply the training? One option is to select a more mature church planter as a coach for each region, another is to have a church planter network- groups come together periodically for peer-coaching.

10.  A local coordinating team is needed to prepare events. Preferably this team brings together people from different churches and denominations. This team also raise funds and finds trainers.

Reproducible training begins with discipleship and requires that DNA be built in from the start. Ying Kai’s story illustrates the potential of that. Every disciple is seen as a potential member of a church planting team and every church planter is seen as a potential trainer. Are you a reproducer? If you have recently launched reproducible training of some king, please let me know. If would like help designing it, we would be happy to help. Matt9.38@efca.org



[2] The Key to the Missionary Problem, Morrison and Gibb Limited, 1902

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Gene is serving as Church Planting Director for ReachGlobal and has been a church planter in Quebec and a church planting coach in Latin America.