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29 Mar '12

Best practices for training overseas

Posted by T.J. Addington in leadership development, learning, missions, teaching
Many are engaged in training nationals overseas, something that is a high value in a world where a good theological education is out of the reach of most church leaders. How it is done, however, can make a significant difference in its long term impact. 


In many cases, national pastors from the majority world will attend any training that comes their way. Because that training is often paid for or subsidized and they are hungry for information. The end result, however, is often a grocery list of seminars and training that has no coherence to it and has far less value than we might think it does. And since we train and leave we do not know how effective our time was.


Here are some best practices to consider when involved in overseas training.


1. Before you go, take a class in contextualization so that you understand how to train in a culture that is not your own. Without an understanding of cross-cultural training we often train people to do things our way which is not appropriate in their culture and simply describes a western church model which is not appropriate to them.


2. Think Biblical principles, not specific programs or strategy. Principles are timeless and cross cultures, strategies and programs often do not. Most of us are equipped to teach principles for ministry but we are not equipped to know how they apply those principles in their context.


3. Don't simply teach, create dialogue. The majority world is used to simply taking in whatever is taught to them - it is the school model they grew up in. What we need to do is to help people think, evaluate, plan and apply for their context. This only comes in dialogue.


4. Rather than one off training sessions, consider a plan to train specific groups over a period of years so that you build into a group with intentionality and can see the progress they make. Allow them to make the plan with your input.


5. Always spend a good period of time in group exercises where they are thinking through the application of your teaching to their context together. For instance, if the topic is that of making disciples, have them think about an intentional process that works in their context.


6. Find out what their concerns are. We often have an agenda for what we want to teach but don't ask the group about their concerns and challenges. We are there to serve them so it is important that we understand the issues that are critical for them. 


7. Have someone with you from the local culture who can coach you on where you are communicating well and where you are losing them. 


8. Watch your illustrations, metaphors and examples. Many do not translate into another culture and will not help.


9. Ensure that everything you teach is transferable to others. If it is to complex for your students to pass on it has limited effectiveness even in the group you are teaching.


10. Keep it simple. Complexity is confusing. Simplify complexity so that you communicate what is truly important.