Training Trainers of Church Planters and Shepherds


              You can train leaders as Jesus and Paul did, in a reproductive way that helps leaders multiply leaders. Jethro told Moses how to train thousands of shepherds in this way (Exodus 18). Biblical coaching enables a leader to prepare many shepherds rapidly, starting with only one or two apprentices.

              Such training, whether done during workshops, in small gatherings, as apprenticeships or by a series of sessions, collides head-on with non-biblical, educational tradition. Teachers who have spent years taking or giving classroom courses following linear, non-interactive curricula, find it hard to adapt to biblical, menu-based, need-driven training of new leaders. So cushion the collision by following these guidelines

1.     Lead Occasional Workshops

              Introduce coaching to church planters and pastoral trainers through two or three-day workshops. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give participants a concrete vision of multiplying leaders and churches, then instruct them with this aim in mind.

  • Let workshop participants form small work groups with actual or potential co-workers, and spend time drawing maps or in some other way visualizing their areas of responsibility and 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.
  • Let each work group report its plans. Let all participants pray for each group, for God’s help to carry out its plans. This reporting and praying is often a workshop’s most moving part.
  • Teach principles and practices as needed with brief role-plays and demonstrations. Prepare trainees during break times to act out Bible stories or simple skits that illustrate useful skills.

2.     Mentor from a Menu

              A useful menu lists the ministries that God requires of any congregation, and specifies corresponding study materials that present vital activities together with corresponding biblical truths. Such a menu enables trainers to help new leaders deal with needs as they arise in new churches and cells. Freely download such a menu from

  • Jesus and His apostles taught in response to expressed needs and opportunities to serve, avoiding abstract, linear, highly analytical instruction. A good menu allows a trainer to add studies and books to the curriculum, as needs arise.
  • Mentoring prepares self-supported workers whose jobs and other duties impede their attending institutions and seminars held during work hours. Mentoring mobilizes many self-supported, church planters and shepherds (‘tent makers’), without relying heavily on young, single, poorly paid workers, which inevitably breeds dependency.
  • Focus on current realities. Some educators who prefer monologue lectures may try to use menu-based training materials as they would conventional textbooks, starting with the first study in the menu and going through the list without regard to trainees’ churches’ needs. Start with studies geared to new flocks, relational evangelism and Christ’s commands, for only loving obedience to Jesus gives new flocks the right foundation (Matt. 7:24-27).
  • Provide studies that financially poor trainees can afford and can carry in a pocket. Select studies that apply to an urgent need. Avoid doing as some educators who bind the booklets into one big volume that is too expensive for students in most pioneer fields, and too big to carry during the day and read as time allows.
  • Keep on printing study booklets and providing regional deposits of materials. If the supply runs out, then trainers may feel they must revert to traditional books geared to academic training that stifles popular movements to Christ.
  • Church synods sometimes elect coordinators of extension training who are popular but have too many administrative duties and cannot focus on training and church planting. Such leaders often serve for a term, and then fail to find a replacement who sees the job as more than an elected position with a title; thus, 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 grace to do so.

3.     Build a Good Menu of Studies

              The New Testament requires some 14 areas of church life that make up, in some form, the menu categories in Train & Multiply® and Paul-Timothy Studies:

1.  Evangelism and baptism.
2.  New churches and home groups.
3.  Foreign missions.
4.  Fellowship, forgiveness and reconciliation.
5.  Marriage and family.
6.  Serving the needy.
7.  Prayer and spiritual warfare.
8.  Spiritual care and transformation.
9.  Overseeing and planning.
10.  Shepherding the flock, watching for ‘wolves’.
11.  Teaching and applying god’s word.
12.  Stewardship.
13.  Group worship, communion.
14.  Training leaders for mother and daughter churches, foreign missions.

              Like a restaurant waiter, trainers listen to those whom they coach as they report on their churches’ needs and progress. Then he goes to the ‘kitchen’ (Bible passages and studies listed in the menu) and provides studies that fit the immediate needs of each flock. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 13:52).

4.     Know when to Teach with Monologue

              Mentoring and lecturing together form a balanced education; Jesus and Paul did both. New leaders of new flocks, like newborn babies, have urgent needs that require the immediate attention of a mentor. As flocks and leaders mature, needs become less urgent, and good mentors ‘wean’ them as Jesus and Paul did their trainees. Mentoring is too time-consuming to continue indefinitely, so when a flock is doing all that the New Testament requires, phase out mentoring.


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