Church Based Training

I'd love to write a book. When I was a freshman in college, I started one. But you need two things to be able to write a book: knowledge, and experience. As a freshman in college, I had neither. So I finished the prologue, wrote the dedication page, and quit. Maybe I'll take it back up when I'm 50 and actually have a little more life under my belt.

For now, I read a lot of other peoples' books. And I've noticed something about books recently: many of the very best ones don't come up with revolutionary ideas that have never been thought before. Conservative estimates believe humans have existed for at least 6,000 years, so to believe one of us actually has a novel idea that was never before thought of by one of the billions of people who have existed throughout history is pretty far out. Instead, some of the best books out there take things we already knew, package them in a new way, and sell them to those of us who didn't know we knew what we know.

That's what Rowland Forman, Jeff Jones, and Bruce Miller have done in their book "The Leadership Baton." These men are all affiliated with the Center for Church Based Training, which is a group that functions as a part of Fellowship Bible Church North, where I'm now employed. This book defines the principle that drives the ministry at Fellowship Bible Church North, and has helped not only FBCN, but the numerous churches planted by this ministry.

The principle is called "Church Based Training," and it's not new - not completely. One could argue Paul was practicing the philosophy of "Church Based Training" when he told Timothy to take the things he had learned, and teach them to others who could teach others as well. But somewhere in history, the church got away from Church Based Training. Oh, we had discipleship class. We had Bible Studies. We taught people how to be scholars, and students, and theologians. But we didn't teach them to be leaders.

That's the downfall of the seminary today. Every year hundreds of men and women graduate from seminaries and Bible colleges with a grasp of God's Word, a knowledge of theology, and sometimes even a familiarity with the Bible's original languages. But when they show up in our church as our pastor, they don't know how to lead. The luw paradigm won't help even the best Greek scholar survive a board meeting, or set direction for the church.

Don't get me wrong. I believe, and know the writers of this book believe graduate studies are vastly important. I wouldn't trade my seminary experience for anything. But seminaries can't teach everything.

And Church Based Training is not just for pastors. This principle drives all of Fellowship's ministries. The youth ministry, worship ministry, men's and women's ministries, and the small group ministry of which I'm a part have all bought in to the Church Based Training philosophy, and it has made Fellowship a better place.

The philosophy isn't complex. There isn't a secret meeting room full of charts, graphs, names, and pictures. Only a group of people who are determined to be intentional about developing the people around them. Each emerging leader is given a baton like the ones used in a relay race. It is inscribed "2 Timothy 2:2." The leader is told that the baton isn't for them, but for the person they will train to come after them. And from day one, the leader is given a tangible reminder of the importance of passing a legacy from one leader to the next.

All over the church, batons are being passed along. Small group leaders train other small group leaders. Youth leaders train other youth leaders. Pastors train other pastors. Elders train other elders. It's a simple concept, but because the church and its leadership are serious and intentional about it, it is making a huge difference.

I'll write more in coming days and weeks about how this philosophy actually plays out as I get the opportunity to observe it. For now, buy the book. You won't be disappointed.


Andrew Carr said...

Chris, you should read Fyodor Dostoevsky's work. This guy is like intellect...on steroids. Seriously, even though he writes fiction his ideas are amazing. It took me half a year to read the Brothers Karamozov, but it was worth it because it was the best intellectual work I've read, besides the Bible.

Chris Freeland said...

I wish I was as smart as you. I tend to have a rule against reading books written by authors whose names I can't pronounce.