Seven Guidelines to Train Church Planters and Shepherds on the
Copyright © January 2007
by George Patterson and Galen Currah
May be freely copied, translated and distributed
The following guidelines
for those who train church planters and pastoral trainers come from our ‘storehouse’
of years of training that has seen church planting movements develop
through God’s gracious enablement. MentorNet #7 pointed out a distinct
feature of New Testament leader training in the way in which Jesus and his
apostles gave intensive, focused attention to their apprentices and their
flocks’ needs. Paul ordered his apprentice Timothy:
you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What you
have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who
will be able to teach others as well. Join me in suffering like a good
soldier of Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 2:1-3, ISV).
1. Adopt a Biblical Model of Leader Training
This four-level training ‘chain’ recalls
Jethro’s advice to Moses (Exo18), when thousands of new shepherding elders
needed orientation. Such chains enable a leader to prepare many shepherds
rapidly, starting with only one or two apprentice shepherds. Such chains
prove both reproductive and reproducible. We recommend Patrick O’Connor, Reproducible Pastoral Training (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2006), an
expanded checklist of church planting and pastoral training guidelines. <www.WCLbooks.com>.
For best results, train new leaders — and
help others to do so — in the way that Jesus and the apostle Paul did, in
order to multiply rapidly both new leaders and churches or cell groups, as they
did in apostolic times. Perhaps the main obstacle to such training, whether
done by workshops, personal mentoring or a series of training sessions, is
the compelling, non-biblical Western educational tradition. Christian
workers who have had years of experience in classroom courses with a
linear, non-interactive curriculum, find it hard — at first — to flex
enough to adopt a more biblical ‘menu-based’ approach to need-driven training
of new leaders.
2. Lead Workshops for Church Planters and Pastoral
Pray that the Holy Spirit will give the workshop participants a concrete vision of
multiplying leaders and churches, and teach with this aim in mind.
participants form small work groups with actual or potential co-workers,
and spend time drawing maps or in some other way recording plans for their churches
to begin at once to plant daughter churches. Let them write down whom they
will send to start new churches or cells, where these flocks may be located,
and indicate possible granddaughter and great granddaughter flocks.
group report its plans to the assembly. Let the participants pray for each
group, that God will help it to carry out the plans. This time of reporting
and praying is often the most motivating highlight of such workshops.
as much as possible with brief role-plays and demonstrations. Prepare
trainees during breaks to act out Bible stories or to do simple skits that
illustrate useful skills.
3. Take Advantage of Menu-based
A menu-based curriculum enables trainers
to help new leaders deal with urgent needs as they arise in ‘baby’ churches
and cells. A training menu lists activities that the New Testament requires
of flocks, integrated with the doctrines that correspond to each activity. Remember,
no vital doctrine of Scripture was revealed without its corresponding duty.
in response to the current needs and opportunities to serve, as expressed
by trainees, honors the method of Christ and His apostles. Following a
traditional, linear curriculum alone hinders such responsive teaching.
by mentoring prepares self-supported workers whose jobs and other
responsibilities make it impossible for them to attend institutions and
seminars with classes held during work hours. Mentoring can mobilize far more
self-supported church planters and shepherds (‘tent makers’), without
relying so heavily on young, single, poorly paid workers, which inevitably
breeds crippling dependency.
good training menu lists study materials that correspond to all vital
ministries and doctrines, integrating theory and practice, making it easy
for trainees’ flocks quickly to become active doers of God’s Word and not
good menu allows a trainer to add studies and books to the curriculum,
especially as unforeseen needs arise.
recommends studies that are geared to sustain church multiplication, by
rapidly training many new shepherds with a focus on relational evangelism
and on obeying the commands of Christ, as His Great Commission requires. Loving
obedience to Jesus gives new flocks the right foundation.
the Challenges of Menu-based Training
Unfortunately, few educators can shake
themselves loose from the monologue lectures in order to train new pastors in
the way that Scripture shows how to do it. They may feel tempted to take menu-based
training materials and use them like ordinary textbooks in an institutional
program, starting with the first study in the menu and going through the
list without regard to the new churches’ needs.
menu-based studies come in the form of small, pocketsize booklets. Trainers
select a study that applies to an urgent need. However, traditional
educators often bind such study booklets into one big volume, which proves too
expensive for the average student in a pioneer field, and too big to pack
around in one’s pocket to read whenever time allows.
sponsored by a traditional educator to train church planters seldom yield
permanent results. When such a seminar is over, the participants forget much
of it, or existing, traditional programs contradict it.
coordinators often fail to keep printing new supplies of study booklets and
providing regional deposits of materials. Thus, the studies listed in the
menu run out and trainers resort to any traditional textbooks that are
available. This leads back to institutional education, and the expensive,
non-reproductive but popular traditions.
associations often elect as coordinators existing leaders who are popular
but have too many administrative duties and cannot focus effectively on training
and church planting. Such elected leaders often serve for a specific term of
years, and then fail to find a replacement who sees the job as anything
more than an elected ‘position’ with a title, and so church multiplication ceases.
Coordinators must be gifted leaders who are passionate about church
multiplication and continue to coordinate as long as the Lord gives them
strength and grace to do so.
5. Find or Build a Good Menu of Studies
A mentor’s menu must integrate theology
with action. It is a crime to fail to integrate biblical doctrines with
their corresponding practical work. Failure to connect doctrine and duty
fragmentizes biblical doctrine, leading to a distorted view of Christ and
His church, and seriously limiting the services rendered by a church body.
good menu is easy to use, avoids non-essential details, and enables
inexperienced leaders to begin at once to mentor newer leaders. New leaders
are often effective mentors of other new leaders, because their young
flocks share similar needs, and they are concerned about the same issues.
However, there must be an experienced mentor at the head of all mentoring
chains, who knows how to deal with issues beyond the grasp of new workers.
The Bible requires these 14 areas
of church life that make up, in one form or another, the menu categories treated
in Train & Multiply®, Paul-Timothy Studies, and Shepherd’s Storybook:
Evangelism and Baptism.
Churches and Home Groups.
Fellowship, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
Marriage and Family.
Serving the Needy.
Prayer and Spiritual Warfare.
Care and Transformation.
Overseeing and Planning.
Shepherding the Flock, Watching for ‘Wolves’.
Teaching and Applying God’s Word.
Group Worship, Communion.
Training Leaders for Mother and Daughter Churches.
6. Practice How to Use a Menu of Studies
Like a waiter in a restaurant, a trainer should
listen to those whom he coaches as they report what their churches are ‘hungry’
for. Then he goes to the ‘kitchen’ (Bible passages and study materials
listed in the menu) and brings out studies and activities that fit each trainee’s
flock’s immediate needs and ministry opportunities.
a list of options lets students and trainers select studies and activities
that fit the immediate needs of their churches and cells. New churches and
new leaders, especially in new fields, have urgent needs and ministry
opportunities that require attention now. A
linear curriculum outline overlooks urgent needs. Jesus and His apostles
taught mainly in response to needs by listening first, then responding. Jesus
said in Matthew 13:52:
Every teacher of the
law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner
of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.
A good training menu helps a new shepherd
to integrate a variety of resources to use at once with his flock. Well-experienced
pastors and missionaries may not need such a menu, because they have the
options in their mind, but less experienced trainers need a menu to train
others in a relevant way.
7. When to Teach with a Monologue
We need both types of training —mentoring
and classroom lectures — to provide a balanced education. New leaders of
new flocks, like newborn babies, have urgent needs that require the immediate
attention of a mentor. However, as flocks and their leaders mature, their
needs become less urgent; their mentors should ‘wean’ them away from being
mentored, like Jesus and Paul did for their trainees. Mentoring is too
time-consuming to continue indefinitely, and the time comes sooner than
most trainers expect when workers no longer need it on a regular basis. When
workers mature, they can continue learning from timesaving lectures. Jesus
and Paul did both: when training new leaders, they mentored them in small
groups; when instructing crowds, they lectured.
the Bible to immediate needs of trainees’ churches, including studies for
children. Download freely from <www.Paul-Timothy.net>.
Train and Multiply® provides pocket-sized pastoral training studies with cartoons, for rapid
church multiplication in new fields. Many languages. Visit <www.TrainAndMultiply.com>.
Shepherd’s Storybook uses Bible stories to teach vital doctrines and duties to new
leaders whose reading ability is limited. Download freely from <www.Paul-Timothy.net>.
Mentor for Ministry. Receive credit from Western Seminary or a
certificate from Community Vision International for being mentored. Information:
mentoring tools and web sites at <http://www.MentorAndMultiply.com>.
Download “Come, Let Us Disciple the Nations” (software)
Multiplication Guide in English from <http://www.WCLbooks.com> or at a bookshop.
Download CMG free in Portuguese or in French from <http://paul-timothy.net/cmg/>.
Pastoral Training in English from <http://www.WCLbooks.com> or at a bookshop.
Download this article or earlier MentorNet articles from
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To obtain counsel on church planting, write to George
Patterson at <GPatterson@cvi2.org>.
To learn how to use Train
& Multiply® write to Galen Currah at <GalenCurrah@TrainAndMultiply.com>.
obtain information on how to procure T&M®,