Our friends at Catalyst Services picked up on a recent ChinaSource blog by Brent Fulton that asked "Does China Need More Leadership Training?" To further the discussion they asked others who are involved in training leaders globally for their responses to the blog and included them in their monthly e-newsletter, Postings.
One response from a training agency offered an additional four suggestions for Western churches seeking to contribute in responsible, effective ways to the training of church leaders overseas.
- Offer practical, biblical training for leaders because it is needed almost everywhere
In China as elsewhere, the most easily accessed locations always attract the most ministries. In some places, multiple ministries are tripping over each other, and churches in those areas can choose from a veritable smorgasbord of training opportunities. However, even where there are many options, much of this training is either little more than basic discipleship or very academic in nature. Both of these are needed, but they are not adequate for the training of leaders. We find that reproducible, church-based training focused on developing both a biblical theology and godly character is still needed in most Chinese churches.
- Seek to train leaders in practical ministry skills
Many Chinese church leaders struggle to apply what they know to everyday life and ministry. For example, many have significant struggles in their own marriages, and they often have no idea how to help those they pastor deal with marital struggles. As a result, one of our most popular courses is Christian Marriage.
- Prepare church leaders to deal with new ministry realities
The church in China is undergoing wrenching change. Rural house-church networks are struggling to figure out how to work in urban centers as massive migration moves people to the cities. In addition, new independent urban churches are springing up all over, led by men and women who usually have no history in the church and often little biblical knowledge to guide them. The most common request we receive currently is for training in church management. Therefore, we are seeking to provide more courses focused on developing these skills.
- Benefit from the experience and expertise of proven ministries that have a systemic approach to leadership training
There are still large segments of the church in China that are significantly under-served by any systematic leadership training. The plethora of unrelated training offerings often leave church leaders wondering how to integrate all the different things they hear into a meaningful ministry strategy, or lead them to jump from one fad to the next. Our ministry and others like us are available to help Western churches invest their time and resources in a manner that will provide church leaders in China and elsewhere with a well-rounded biblical theology and strategic approach to ministry.
Read more, including Brent's concluding thoughts and action points for churches and agencies, at "Avoiding Duplication."
Thanks Catalyst Services for furthering the conversation!
Photo Credit: Joann Pittman