We are sometimes asked by our partners to identify the mission-critical elements of an Antioch School training process. What are those things, in our experience, which make the difference in whether a training program effectively develops leaders?
One critical practice we have identified is having students work on their Personal Development Plan early in the training. This tool takes students through a series of exercises – a life planning arch – beginning broadly with a clear life-vision statement, then moving to details of a student’s gifting and responsibilities, and ending with a comprehensive plan for growth. Annual review and revision keeps the plan current and keeps students in a disciplined rhythm of self-evaluation.
Why is the Personal Development Plan so strategic?
- It integrates the training experience. The process prevents students from just focusing on a favored area of the training (such as the Leadership Series courses), helps them to identify measurable growth objectives in each sphere of life, and clarifies how various elements of the Antioch School training will help them accomplish those objectives.
- It encourages life-long learning. We tend to learn for a season and then plateau. Rightly implemented this tool will help students develop habits of learning, assessment, adjustment, and continued learning – habits critical for a leader who needs to keep acquiring wisdom over a life-time of ministry.
- It teaches students to assess priorities and to juggle all the necessary balls amidst the demands of ministry. Rather than being controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, students learn to invest time and energy in a balanced fashion that addresses needs within their personal walk, family, community, church, and broader ministry spheres.
- It gives our partners a tremendous resource as they implement training. Partners are able to tailor-make practicums, adjust course projects, or assign mentors based on the unique needs of a student. They are better able to address shepherding issues that are specific to the student and recognized by the student.
When the Personal Development Plan is postponed or done hastily, we have found that students are more prone to approach the training in a merely academic fashion. The elements of the training become fragmented rather than seen in relation to each other. Many benefits of carrying out training in the context of ministry are muted. Done rightly, the Personal Development Plan will help your training process be truly holistic rather than one dimensional.
Ideally, we suggest that you take students through the Personal Development Plan within the first few weeks of launching an Antioch School program. During initial training you receive a First Term Scenario which depicts how this can be done. If you are well past the start of your program, you can activate this tool in an intense, focused period such as a weekend retreat. Please note also that we provide an online manual and a reoccurring e-Workshop that you can tap for insight on creating an effective Personal Development Plan.
We are confident that as you implement this piece of your Antioch School training process, you will see how the Personal Development Plan powerfully links every element of the training experience to the needs of the student. It will ultimately help the whole training have an impact that is greater than the sum of the parts.