Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Church Leadership Training for Ayutthaya

I'm really impressed by the leadership at the church we work alongside - there is no "full-time" worker or pastor, but 3-4 couples share the responsibilities for running the church (administration as well as teaching), and a few others help with preaching, Sunday School, and so on. It has been very easy to tell people that I haven't come to "pastor" or lead Tha Rua Church - the church is doing quite well without us. What we are here to do is work alongside TR Church to start churches - or, more accurately, networks of congregations - in the surrounding districts that do not have churches, and throughout Ayutthaya. What we will be needing for that to happen is more Thai leaders. And I think, since we have several people who are involved in ministry at one level or another, it will be important to start developing leadership now, so that when membership grows we will have more leaders able to nurture spiritual growth.
Because we have several people with some degree of ability and even experience already, I want to aim for a plan that will be a bit more egalitarian, rather than top-down. I like what Greg Ogden has suggested in his book, Transforming Discipleship: Trios are more conducive to multiplication than either pairs (direct mentoring) or small groups (5-8 people). Ogden found that those who developed in trios were far more likely to start second and third generation groups than any other type of group. He suggested that one-on-ones tend to be hierarchical, and the person being mentored usually gets few if any opportunities to practice leadership. In larger ‘small’ groups, one or two people tend to dominate – it is much more difficult to make them egalitarian enough for everyone to develop leadership ability. Of course, trios can be dominated by one person as well, but it seems to create the atmosphere most likely to lead to multiplication.

In our groups, I want to recognize the abilities and experience that each person brings, as well as admit that I want to continue growing in ministry ability and spiritual depth. When I first started working with Tha Rua Church, Ajaan Suphachot (head of ACT Central Thailand) gave me some good advice: that Thai Christian leaders don’t like to be seen as the “luuk nong” (underlings) of foreigners. I’ve made it a priority to keep that advice at the fore of our work here.

I do like the flexibility of the “Train and Mentor” materials – each member can choose which module to work on to develop in spiritual depth and ministry. The problem I see with this curriculum is that it is designed to be hierarchical – only those under the chain of authority of the licensee may use the materials without having to pay the fee. However, I think we can develop a curriculum using some of the available materials in Thailand, and a template for group members to develop their own modules. It is taking some time to draw up a menu of available and potential modules, but I do like how it is coming together.

To summarize, the kind of leadership development scheme I’m trying to develop will (1) use trios (at max 4 people, after which the group can split), (2) aim for mutual encouragement and accountability, with each person having authority and responsibility in the group, (3) use a flexible, biblical curriculum, hopefully with the opportunity for members to develop their own modules based on interest and need, (4) groups will meet regularly (twice a month?) and commit to pray for one another daily.

I have also tried to summarize the purpose of these groups as: To develop enough leaders for many churches in Ayutthaya who (1) depend on the Lord and walk closely with Him, (2) have the ability to lead the church and proclaim the gospel, (3) love and understand God’s Word, (4) are able to develop the next generation of leaders as well as church members, and (5) are continually growing in spiritual depth and their own ability to lead.

I presently have about six guys I’d like to try this scheme with. I’ll update how this is going from time to time.

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