One of our core beliefs is that the gospel changes everything. It is as crucial to the life of a church planter as it is for the new believer.
For that reason, the goal of much of our church planter training is not just learning theology or practical skills, but ultimately it is the transformation of the learner. Leaders are subject to pressures, temptations, and often isolation, which can affect their ability to find community, accountability, and maintain both their ministries and their personal relationships.
Over the past four years, our Director of Global Training, John Thomas, has developed a 16-module Urban Incubator for New York City church planters meeting regularly over the course of two years. The Incubator incorporates both a rich and interactive curriculum and relationship-building for church planters walking together through the intense financial, professional, and personal pressures of planting a church.
In the hopes of spreading this community-based, transformative learning to other regions, John has also developed a facilitator guide to help trainers teach each module. Earlier this August, the first ever "Train the Trainer" took place in Princeton, NJ, with twenty church planters who are leading networks in ten countries. It was a highly interactive time of modeling, simulations, and spirited discussion of how to train gospel-centered church planters.
For leaders who are learning how to train other leaders, the danger is to focus on lectures and papers focusing solely on content and methodology. Our hope is that gospel-centered relationship-building remains at the core of this "curriculum," even in the teaching methods used, which are meant to be learner-centric and adaptable. The participants were all encouraged to tweak, translate, and contextualize the curriculum to their own contexts, and to keep in touch with each other to share what they learn as they continue to use it.
Among the comments from the training were the following:
"I went back not just with all the teaching and training you imparted, but I think I went back with a little bit of the passion you bring into your ministry. I won't forget that for the rest of my life."
"The Incubator curriculum is a tremendous help. I really cannot believe you allow us to use it. Thank you!"
Our thanks to Shari Thomas and Tami Resch from Parakaleo, a ministry for church planter spouses, and to Allen Thompson, one of the pioneers of Redeemer City to City's work with leaders, for their participation in the teaching and planning of the event.
We've posted pictures of the event on our Facebook page, or you can see the complete album onFlickr. You can also give directly to Redeemer City to City's work equipping network leaders in global cities.