Our last newsletter described coaching as one of SENT Network’s equipping strategies (read our last newsletter here). In this newsletter, we focus on training with SENT. Solomon once aptly wrote, "Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning" (Proverbs 9:9). To give more insight into the importance of training with SENT, we interviewed SENT’s Executive Director, Mark McGeever.
Can you give an overview of what training looks like at SENT? "Training through SENT is one aspect of our overall approach to provide customized equipping of leaders to plant and pastor gospel-centered churches within our network. Our shared Gospel DNA provides the topics for the courses we design and use in our training. These include topics like Centering on Jesus and the Gospel, Reaching Unbelievers, Rooting & Forming Self-Feeding Disciples, Building Vision Clarity & Healthy Teams, Fundraising for Planting, Cultivating A Generous & Self-Supporting Church, Developing & Multiplying Leaders and Elders, as well as other topics."
What have been some obstacles to training and how have you overcome these? "There are a few main challenges to providing training for a network of church planters and pastors. First, the leaders we train come to us with different developmental needs. So, we don’t want to merely dump a lot of standardized information on everyone just to say we covered all topics. That approach to training will be ineffective, irrelevant, or redundant for those we train. Second, we are a geographically dispersed network. This provides a challenge for how to deliver training in a format that is feasible and won’t burden training participants with unnecessary travel to access training. Finally, it's a challenge to train those who are planting and pastoring churches in our network from such a wide variety of cultural contexts (urban, suburban, less educated, highly educated, or different ethnic/racial backgrounds, etc.). What is learned by planters and pastors must be transferable by them back into the subcultures they are engaged in reaching.
"We are overcoming these various obstacles to training by providing short intensive training courses that combine online learning with active face-to-face training. Each Gospel DNA training module is offered over several weeks online, culminating in a one-day practical workshop in a central location in our region. We form small training cohorts motivated to learn the topic and develop their competency to practice a particular skill. We teach transferable principles and then have each participant in a cohort customize the applications with real case situations that can be practiced in their specific cultural context. This ‘blended learning’ approach to our training has proven to be both feasible and fruitful."
What benefits from training at SENT have you seen? "Church planters, pastors, and leaders from across our network are actually applying what they are learning during these training courses. Here is a sample of comments from anonymous surveys submitted by training participants from the last couple of SENT courses."
Survey questions and responses by those trained:
What tools, skills, or ideas do you now have that you did not have at the beginning of this training course?
“Creative ways to listen and apply gospel truths in a healthy, effective way through daily conversations.”
“A process to work through myself and with others to discern what is at the root of a life situation in order to give gospel-motivated counsel.”
“A better understanding of kingdom-centered prayer and how to submit my petitions boldly and persistently to God.”
How have you been using the things you learned in this training course?
“It has shifted my paradigm in how I engage people I lead.”
“I led our staff in kingdom-centered prayer at our last staff meeting.”
“The burden for kingdom-centered prayer is helping me lead our church in a better way. Also, understanding the idols that we carry has helped in preaching to the heart.”
“It has made me approach all my relationships differently.”
“I try to see how I can speak gospel truths in my everyday life—to coworkers, family, friends, etc. I am more aware of what other people are saying and how my response can guide them towards Jesus.”
What did you find most useful in this training course?
“While I am familiar with many of the concepts and principles taught in the course… it brought it all together and forced me to flesh it out for our own church in a fresh and clear way.”
“It was a great course. I think the case studies were the best part of the course and really forced us to apply what we’ve been learning.”
We hope you are encouraged to read about the impact our training is having. We are grateful that God is using SENT Network to train planters, pastors, and leaders for the multiplying of gospel-centered churches. Thank you for your partnership with us to expand God’s kingdom!
In His grace,