by Joel Comiskey
I love learning. God wants all of us to become life-time learners. I believe God desires that we sharpen our brains through reading and study, and in the process become more like our maker, who knows all things.
There is a difference, however, between general education and training. Neil F. McBride, Ed.D., Ph.D., makes a helpful clarification:
Education is an expanding activity; starting with where a person is at, it provides concepts and information for developing broader perspectives and the foundations for making future analysis and decisions. On the other hand, training is a narrowing activity; given whatever a person’s present abilities are, it attempts to provide specific skills and the necessary understanding to apply those skills. The focus is on accomplishing a specific task or job (How to Build a Small Group Ministry, p. 128).
Education is a life-time quest, whereas training is for a specific purpose, with a limited time frame.
Cell church ministry encourages life-time education but focuses on specific training in order to turn members into disciple-makers. The goal is to move everyone through the equipping track to fulfill the great commission. Most churches don’t catch this distinction. The goal is simply Christian education, rather than preparation to be a disciple.
Let me give you an exampel from my own 5-book equipping series. In developing this equipping track, I’ve gleaned (stolen with pride) principles from cell chruches around the world.
- Live, my first book, covers key Christian doctrines, including baptism and the Lord’s supper (action step: baptism)
- The second book, Encounter, guides the believer to receive freedom from sinful bondages (action step: confession and repentance, resulting in spiritual freedom)
- Grow, the third book, gives step-by-step instruction for having a daily quiet time, so that the believer will be able to feed him or herself through spending daily time with God (action step: have a daily quiet time)
- The fourth book, Share, instructs the believer how to communicate the gospel message in a winsome, personal way (action step: share the gospel in a personal and group setting)
- The fifth book, Lead, prepares the Christian on how to facilitate an effective cell group (action step: lead a cell or be part of the leadership team in a cell)
Those taking the training are in a cell group, so they are living cell values while learning and obeying biblical teaching. Many cell churches have upper level training for those who have completed the first level and are applying the principles.
On the other hand, the general “educational” courses offered in many churches rarely lead to the fulfillment of a goal. As mentioned, training in the cell church is tightly focused on a step-by-step disipleshp process.
What’s your understanding on the differences between general education and specific training?