Training the Army

By Steve Cordle

When my boys turned 16, they each eagerly started the process of learning to drive. That meant they visited the Department of Motor Vehicles to take the written driver’s test. They had to demonstrate their knowledge of the manual of the rules of the road. They studied the book and each one passed on their first attempt at the test. They were happy, but they were not yet licensed. They were educated about driving, but they were not yet equipped to drive. To obtain their license, they had to demonstrate to the state trooper that they could translate their knowledge of the manual into control of the car.

In order to release world-changing disciples and group leaders, churches must do more than educate their members with biblical knowledge. Rather, they must equip them in translating that knowledge into obedience to Jesus and ministry to others. Yes, biblical knowledge is important, it is just not enough.

The Equipping Track of a cell church differs from a Sunday School class or a lecture Bible Study in that it is designed with an end in mind: a reproducing leader. Do you have a clear understanding of what knowledge and skills are required for a person to disciple others through leading a group? Do you have a way to develop people in those skills in a step-by-step manner? An Equipping Track should involve not only instruction from a book, but experience in ministry under the coaching of another practitioner. When people realize that your church is designed to equip and release them into ministry, they become excited partners in ministry; the audience becomes an army.



4 thoughts on “Training the Army

  • Steve,

    You have hit an important point many miss: There is a difference between teaching and training.

    You can tell a freshly recruited soldier information about his rifle, but the military does more than that. They don’t just hold a class and ask him to read a book. A soldier will be required to actually shoot his weapon. Repeatedly! He will be required to take it apart and reassemble again and again until he can do it in the dark. He is taught about his weapon, but he is also trained how to handle it.

    In the same way, without allowing for and requiring actual experiences along the way, our “training track” can quickly become simply a teaching track.

    For this reason, at Central we focus the first half of our training on becoming a good cell member, THEN during the second half we teach them to be a good cell leader. Along with the Biblical foundations, during the first few weeks we teach them early on how to give a testimony/gospel presentation (in less than two minutes.) Then they are required to share this with co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers. Next they have to successfully bring people to the cell to which they belong as a member. They act as an older brother/sister to the cell members they have recruited. Soon they are asked to teach the cell on occasion. Eventually, when they launch, they typically launch with the cell members they recruited during the training process.

    I’d love to say we did this from the beginning, but truthfully we learned to “train” as opposed to “teach” because we made the mistake of focusing on imparting information in our early days. We have found much greater success if the multiplying cell leader has already been “doing the stuff” all along the way.

    Thanks for your valuable thoughts!

    Jon Hamilton
    Central Assembly
    Vero Beach, FL

  • The driving example is a great one. As I read it, I can’t help but even carry the analogy further and point out that even after you get on the road and prove you know what you’re doing and the state licenses you to drive solo, you still have a lot to learn. Think about the difference between the safety of a 16 year old (fully licensed) driving versus the safety of a 40 year old driving.

    I think it’s important even after leaders complete the training course (whether it be in cell groups, or any area of leadership) that we also provide a follow-up course. Granted, they can solo, and their improvement during the training is probably comparable to the difference between a 14 year old trying to drive while no one’s around to stop them and a 16 year old driving legally. However, it’s also good to encourage people to maintain the relationships with experienced leaders even after the training is over.

    After all, the main reason a 40 year old who got their license for the first time yesterday is safer than an 17 year old who has been driving for a year is that the 17 year old thinks they know what they’re doing, but the 40 year old knows their ignorance and they drive better as a result.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *