Thursday, October 1, 2009

Training for Trainers

One of the CPM-friendly methods we have been studying here at CPM (Church Planting Movements) training is the Training for Trainers (T4T) process.  This was started by a Taiwanese man who has since seen a CPM in China to the likes of this:
  • After 2 months (of beginning the process in 2000): 20 small groups started.
  • After 6 months: 327 house churches with 4,000 baptized.
  • After one year: 908 house churches with 12,000 baptized.
  • The following year: 3,535 new churches with more than 53,430 baptisms.
  • First six months of 2002: 9,320 new churches and 104,542 baptisms.
  • End of 3rd year: 15,000 new churches with more than 160,000 baptized believers.
This man was the son of a preacher who made it his goal to start a new church every year.  When he grew up and started ministry, he followed in his father's footsteps and did the same thing, leading 50-60 people to Christ each year.  After attending a training in the year 2000 (very similar to the one I'm in right now) he reasoned:

"What is better than planting a church?"  Answer:  Training others to plant churches.

"And what is better than training others to plant churches?"  Answer:  Training trainers to train church planters to plant even more churches!

His simple method for training trainers of church planters was to make every discipleship lesson reproducible and repeatable.  Below is the process of T4T when the small groups met.

T4T Training Process

There are three parts to the meeting and each one should take about the same amount of time.  Usually the first initial meeting (when they explained the whole process for the first time) would take a half-day.  This would include everyone writing down a list of every non-Christian family member, relative and friend they could think of.  Most people's lists were around 100 people long.  Then they would mark off the first 5 they would share the gospel with.  They did this by each preparing simple testimonies consisting of three parts:  1) What you were like before Jesus, 2) how you met Jesus, and 3) what your life has been like since Jesus.  Then he had them remove all religious vocabulary from their story.  They were then required to share with their first 5 people on their list during the first week.  The next week, the second five.  After they built a small group of inquirers or new believers, they would begin meeting regularly as a small house church.

After the initial meeting explainging the process, meetings would last for about 2-3 hours each time, and they would normally do them about once every two weeks.  This would give people time to put the lesson into practice before filling their heads with new knowledge.  What the people learned and did in this meeting, they repeated in the meetings with their new disciples.  Most of the groups had 5-6 disciples.  The meeting had three parts:

  1. Sharing Time (Fellowship and Accountability)
  2. New Lesson Time
  3. Practice Time
Below is further explanation of what they did during each part of the meetings:

Part 1: Sharing Time

  • Worship
  • Prayer (for the disciples and people in the group)
  • Accountability and problem solving
(These first three things are pastoral care for the group itself.)

  • Review of the last meeting's lesson.
  • Vision Casting time by Leader (Putting the vision of the Great Commission before the people--always putting the burden of the lost out there).
Part 2: New Lesson Time

  • New Lesson (They had their own plan, but you could use any lesson plan or oral story plan you wanted.)
  • Disciples Learn the Story—by retelling it as the trainer asks, “What happened in the story?”
  • Memory Verse (From the lesson)
  • Trainer Testimony—The trainer gives a testimony from his own life what happened when he obeyed the lesson of this story.
  • Application. What will you do with the new lesson?
Part 3: Practice Time (It is critical to do Part 3!  If we are pressed for time we typically want to skip this portion of the meeting--along with the review from Part 1--but if we do we are skipping the most important thing that actually creates obedience rather than mere knowledge, and the CPM tanks.)
  • Trainees lead Part 1 of the T4T session (do it another time with the trainer observing rather than leading)
  • Trainees pair up and re-teach new lesson.
  • Trainees set goals for next two weeks.
  • Pray and Send off.
After Parts 1, 2 and 3 are finished, the trainees go to their own groups and repeat the same process, only as trainers in those groups rather than trainees.  Their trainees learn and repeat the lesson and are encouraged to go out and teach even more people.  You can see how this reproducible model leads to the multiplying of churches.  And it is not just theory--this has actually been put into practice and has worked with the Holy Spirit's help, producing amazing results.

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