The Best Training Track
While eating lunch with Rick Harrell, senior pastor of Brookside Chapel, I soon discovered that Rick wasn’t satisfied with his training track. In reality, his church of 150 was doing quite well (e.g., from 6 to 14 small groups, a functioning coaching structure, growing celebration service), but he wanted more. Like most pastors, he wondered how his training track measured up to other cell churches that produced more leaders.
we discussed various training tracks, I noticed that our conversation began to
spiral downward. We were looking
for a secret key to unlock training track success. Our conversation meandered
into whether Touch’s Encounter Retreat was better than
finished our meal and were driving down the road when Jesus illuminated my
heart. I turned
to Rick and said, “Jesus doesn’t want you to copy someone else’s model.
He wants you to tweak what you have until it works for you.” The Lord
impressed upon me that the best training track is the one that has passed
through the hard knocks of personal experience and testing.
was reminded that the SECRET to a highly effective training track is polishing
and promoting it to the point of making it work.
worst training track, on the other hand, is simply copied from someone else
and then expected to produce amazing results--like believing a diet plan would
cause weight loss without the pain of eating less.
The training track of the International Charismatic Mission, for example, has produced more than 10,000 cell leaders. I made my yearly pilgrimage to ICM, trying to understand their training track. Every month, it seemed, they would change it. I discovered that the reason it worked so well for them was because the leaders tested it, retested it, threw out portions of it, tested it again, and then adapted it until it worked well.
realized that Pastor Rick would have to go through the same process.
do you start?
advice is to start by knowing and following the principles inherent in all
effective training tracks around the world.
over complicate your cell leadership-training track. Most cell church
equipping tracks prepare their leaders in the following areas:
sure that your training is practical, and that you have an action step for
each step of your training.
small group based churches fall into the trap of over-complicating the
first-level of training. They try to place too many steps of training in the
first level and potential small group leaders never arrive at the point of
actually leading a group.
My advice is to divide your training into at least two levels. The first level should include the five basic areas or steps (each area is normally embodied in a manual). It’s important that the first level is not too complicated and allows rapid preparation of cell leaders. The second level provides additional training for cell leaders (second level training is only for those leading a cell group).
#4: Use Only One Equipping Track
you should allow flexibility in the training methodology (next principle), you
should only have one training track. After deciding on a church-wide training
track (ideally both first and second levels, although the first level will
probably come first), a church should require that all future leaders pass
through the same training.
believe that the only way to train new believers is one-on-one. Others
disagree and train new believers in a group setting. Don’t confuse the
training methodology (where or how you train people) with the training track.
(e.g., retreat, one-on-one, classroom, etc.). From my study of the fastest
growing small group based churches
around the world, I’ve noticed a great variety of methodologies for
implementing the training model (e.g.,
one-on-one discipleship, one-on-two or three, training after the cell group,
seminars, classes, retreats, or a combination of all of them).
a church concludes that every small group member is a potential cell leader,
the logical step is to train each person to eventually lead a cell group.
Ideally, each new believer in the church should immediately start attending a
cell and begin the equipping track. In reality, it often takes more
time. However, the more a church closes the gap between idealism and realism,
the more effective it will be.
should be fine-tuning your equipping system continually.
Materials will you Use?
Many cell churches,
while in the process of developing their own materials, use the materials of
others. Remember the words of leadership expert Tom Peters: “The best
leaders…are the best ‘note-takers’, the best ‘askers,’ the best
learners. They are shameless thieves.”
Peters recommends the title, “Swiped from the Best with Pride.”
International Charismatic Mission borrowed extensively from another cell
what is out there. Obtain copies of the material from the best cell churches,
receiving materials from a variety of sources, test those materials according
to Biblical truth and specifically according to your denominational stance. Do
you believe that a person must speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy
Spirit? Is it Biblically meaty
enough for you?
importantly, listen to God. Discover what’s best for your own particular
church and context. You’ll want to include in your materials your specific
doctrinal slant. God has been uniquely working in your own situation from
eternity past. Adapt the materials according to your own needs.
Over time, most cell churches establish their own materials. It’s
just more comfortable and it fits better. God has made your church unique,
with particular convictions and methodology. You’ll want to reflect this
uniqueness in your material. Second, it’s cheaper; you only pay for the
of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Take that step today, whether
that means fine tuning your existing training track or ordering the materials
for the one you’re creating. Remember that many more steps will be required
as you perfect your training track. If you keep
at it, you’ll discover that the secret to a great training track is
continual testing and perfecting until the training track actually does what
it’s supposed to do: produce disciples who are making more disciples (small
group leaders who are producing new small group leaders).
 Taken from chapter 12 of my book Leadership Explosion Touch Publications, 2000).
 J.Peters Thomas, Thriving on Chaos (New York: HarperPerennial,1987), p. 284.
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