There are three essential components of ministry and leadership training:
A knowledge of God’s word is essential to effective ministry and for spiritual transformation of individuals and indigenous communities. This training can be provided in the context of a classroom; but, if the ultimate goal is to foster something more than the passing of academic knowledge, training must be much more comprehensive. Since the mission of Daybreak Bible College (DBC) is to facilitate spiritual growth and comprehensive spiritual transformation, lectures in a classroom setting will not suffice. Since the biblical message and Christian ministry must be wholistic (involving body and spirit), training must move beyond lectures and the classroom (see below).
Knowledge should transform lives. If it does not, then, fault lies with either the teacher and/or the student. It fault may lie with the student who does not listen nor desire to apply the knowledge to his life. The fault could also be due to the ineffective life and teaching of the teacher himself. His teaching methods may be inappropriate. The content of the teaching could be poorly communicated or not made relevant to life. There are many such possibilities and this is where past western modes of teaching are often found lacking in the African context. Knowledge from the west tends to be highly theoretical and presented in ways (appeal to logic) that are not indigenous to Africa where knowledge is more readily acquired through practical experience, stories, and communal discussions. Thus, if classroom teaching is going to be effective in Africa, then it is going to have to employ teaching methods that involve more than lectures using western forms and thinking patterns. Teaching will need to include such strategies that rely more on narratives, practical experience (learning by doing), communal dialogue (small group, deductive Bible studies), etc.
Frankly, this is the most essential component of ministry training; for it the life of the future leader is not transformed in conformity with the will of God, then the life of the leader will undermine and destroy the message he proclaims. Such leaders will do more harm to the kingdom than good. Unfortunately, however, much of this work cannot be done in the classroom. Knowledge (Bible) taught in the classroom may provide understanding and re-orient the mind of the student, but it cannot effective facilitate the application of that knowledge to one’s life. This requires a mentoring relationship.
A mentor is someone who builds a close relationship with the student so that he comes to know the life and heart of the student and builds a relationship of trust. A mentor is one who has matured in the Lord and can walk with the student through the process of application since he has walked that path before in his own life. A mentor is one who guides, coaches and encourages the spiritual growth of the student while also being willing to be transparent himself so that his life can be examined for what it is. A mentor is also someone who goes with the student into the real world as he tries to make personal applications of God’s word to his life. These things cannot be done in a classroom. It requires a supportive community and mentors who both love the student and are willing to share their own life in the process.
Practical Training in Ministry.
Knowledge taught in a classroom is highly theoretical. Even though stories of real life examples can be shared, the knowledge is still theoretical and separated from the real world. Ministry requires skills that are acquired and perfected only through real-life experience. Theory must be put into practice by the student if the student is to acquire ministry skills and build confidence in doing so.
One does not learn to be a good farmer by going to college. He learns by doing as someone more experience (usually one’s father) mentors him in actually doing the work of farming. People learn best by doing. One of the great limitations to most leadership training schools is that they seldom move out of the classroom to give students enough practical experience. Hence, when their students return home, they are dismayed as to why so few of their students ever really end up doing evangelism or church-planting. If the goal is to train men and women who will actually go out and make disciples, then the training itself must give them constant practical experience in evangelism so that they gain confidence and become thorough prepared for missions when they return home.
Because we believe all three of these components are essential to effective leadership training in missions, we at Daybreak (DBC) have devised a training program that seeks to thoroughly employ all these components. Our teachers are being trained to develop teaching strategies and curricula that is appropriate to the African context. In addition to our teachers, we have hired and trained Mission Coordinators who work closely with students outside the classroom so as to facilitate spiritual growth and maturity in the life of the student and to mentor him in the practical experience of doing ministry. Each Mission Coordinator is assigned to 12 students with whom they mentor outside the classroom.