Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

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Learning by doing
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Is learning by doing better than learning through courses?

Recently I reacquainted myself with a common formula used among trainers. It is the 70-20-10 model for learning and development. The model is based on research back in the 1980s on what were the most significant learning experiences for effective leaders.1

The research showed that leaders learned most (70%) through hands-on-experience at work when they accepted challenging assignments and worked on problem-solving. This included learning from taking risks, experimenting and making mistakes.

The next greatest source of learning (20%) came from working with others. This would include collaborating with others, giving and receiving feedback and receiving coaching and mentoring. The last 10% was learning through educational courses, seminars and books.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to train indigenous workers?

Why do we raise thousands of dollars of monthly support, move ourselves and our families to foreign cities, learn their languages and cultures, and seek to plant churches or establishing disciple-making movements within those cultures?

Because Christ tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. Matt 28:19-20.

But the response we often get from those who have thought about the human and financial resources being expended in this effort:

Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more effective to train and support indigenous believers to reach their own people?

How should you and I respond to this pushback?

Is facilitating better than teaching for disciple-making?

Is facilitating better than teaching for disciple-making? In my opinion, both are essential for disciple-making. An online search on the difference between facilitators and teachers found the following:

Traditionally, teachers are the ones with knowledge and expertise in a particular field. They impart knowledge through a variety of means to their students. Facilitators build on the knowledge base of the group of students to find the answers to questions. Both methods of instruction serve a purpose and allow students the chance to grow.

Difference between Facilitators and Teachers

A Time for Teaching?

There is a lot of emphasis on coaching and facilitating in mission circles today. And rightly so – these are great tools! Teaching often does not get much space at the table though. It seems to escape everyone’s notice that those who advocate coaching and facilitating are in fact teaching.

Teaching is frequently caricatured as only interested in passing on information without much concern for life change. In all my education, I have never met that straw man! I never had a teacher or professor who was only interested in my mastering information. Yes, information was the primary focus of exams, but not exclusively. Even my high school Latin teacher sought to build character as we translated Caesar’s “Gallic Wars.” Throughout college and seminary, my faculty advisors ( and other profs) aimed to build character and a faithful lifestyle. Some were better than others, but all saw their role as developing the whole person. Maybe my education was unique, but I don’t think so. For 35 years, I taught at a Bible College, and none of my colleagues were satisfied with simply passing on information. Teaching gets a bad rap when it is portrayed as simply  passing along information.

How can Christian coaching enhance my church planting ministry?

This blog post is contributed by Ted Szymczak. Ted is a SEND missionary who has served in Poland for several terms, and now champions training for church planters within SEND.

Everybody seems to be talking about coaching lately, but what is it and more importantly how useful could it be in my ministry? Keith Webb of Creative Results Management defines coaching as, “An ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” The focus of Christian coaching is on the coachee and helping them hear God’s voice in their lives and follow through in obedience.

What does Romans say about preaching and online learning?

From my journal this morning:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. – Romans 1:8–13

Observation: Paul has heard about the faith of the Romans, and it encourages him (Rom 1:8). He prays for the church regularly (Rom 1:9-10). But he really wants to visit them, so that he can make them strong through his ministry of the Spirit in their midst, so that he and the church can be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Rom 1:12), and so that he can have a harvest among these Gentiles (Rom 1:13). Why does he need to come to Rome in order to minister to them? His epistle to them is obviously already an encouragement and a help to the Romans to make them strong. It is Paul’s most complete explanation of the Gospel. Why could possibly be still lacking in his ministry to them?  Why does he need to go to Rome when he can send this excellent, inspiring and doctrinally sound “sermon” or article to them?   Paul apparently does not know much about the specific problems and needs in the church and wants to interact with the Roman Christians to get to know them, and then address their situation more specifically. He wants to enjoy their company (Rom 15:24); he wants to be refreshed in their company (Rom 15:32).  In order to do so, he needs to see them.

Facilitating Relational Learning among women

In a previous post, I talked about the Entrust training for women that we have been hosting on the SEND campus in Farmington, Michigan.   One of our female workers in Central Asai recently attended the Entrust training in Switzerland and wrote the following article in our latest SEND Harvest Heartbeat publication.

“Who do you think these older women are who are to be teaching the younger women?”

We were reading Titus 2:3-5. Anyone who knows me, or who has been through the first course of the Entrust Women to Women Ministry Training, would recognize this as a leading question. But it was a question that needed to be asked. I wanted the women I was teaching to understand that they are the mentors and teachers that their churches need.

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