June 21, 2024

Recently, I have been thinking about the difference between training and development. Both are important, SEND U is committed to both, but they are different. As Steve Moore said in a recent Missio Nexus webinar, training is oriented around the needs of the organization, while development is oriented around the needs of the individual.

Let me illustrate. Our Member Orientation Program is a training event. SEND U has put together a list of objectives for MOP, describing the learning activities and content that we believe will help a new missionary develop the competency they will need.

We use many different learning methods in this prefield training (an online course, group discussions, case studies, games, field trips, books, etc).    But everyone is asked to complete the same training activities. We have a few options along the way, but just a few. For the sake of efficiency, we have to assume that everyone has basically the same prior understanding and need. We know that assumption is not nearly always true. Some will already know what we are teaching them. Others will have a hard time grasping the content because they are not yet ready for it. But it is not cost-effective nor do we have time and energy to design a totally customized MOP program for each individual appointee, so we have to make some sacrifices. Every training program has to make the same sacrifice.

Coaching is a developmental event. It is oriented around the needs of the coachee. Every coaching conversation is unique because the agenda is determined by the coachee’s goals and needs. It begins with questions about what the coachee wants to accomplish. Further questions explore what the coachee already knows, and help them gain new perspectives on that base of knowledge.

Action steps are decided by the coachee, based on what they believe will help them accomplish their objectives. In coaching, we also make an assumption – the assumption that the coachee has a pretty good idea of what they need. Now we know that assumption is not always true. Sometimes coachees don’t know what they need to grow. But we are willing to give the coachee the benefit of the doubt because we believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the coachee, forming them into the image of Christ and guiding them to greater fruitfulness.

Both training and development are needed in SEND. We are going to continue to do training events like MOP. But as we become more and more culturally diverse and engage more and more unreached peoples, we will also have an increasing need for development – learning that is not cookie-cutter same-for-everyone, but that is molded to the needs of the individual missionary.As I said, development is built on the assumption that people know what they need. How can we help people gain a better understanding of what they need? Key to the success of any type of development is self-awareness. If you really understand your own strengths and weaknesses, your personality, your spiritual gifts and your heart passions and calling, you will be in a much better position to choose learning activities that fit you and that help you accomplish what God has called you to do.

So here are a few self-assessment tools that I recommend:

As Steve Moore points out, many of us have taken an assessment like these, but we don’t remember what the results were, and we have never figured out what to do with what we learned. This is a place where a coach can really help us – to think through the implications of the unique way that God has designed us.

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