We hear regularly from church leaders who want to launch an Antioch School training process but who feel they lack time, energy, and resources. They are often discouraged by the perpetual catch-22. They can’t see a way to train new leaders because they are buried in ministry, too busy and stretched too thin. But… and here’s the catch… they know they will never be less busy without training capable leaders to share the work!
On one hand, this concern is sometimes given too much weight. The Antioch School training processes are designed to be carried out in the midst of ministry by those doing ministry. We have experience helping you to weave the training into the natural rhythm of your responsibilities. On the other hand, you are making a substantial investment – one which will increase your capacity from the first day – but an investment of time and energy nonetheless. It is not surprising, then, that pastors, church planters, and network leaders frequently ask:
How do I get an Antioch School program off the ground? How can I get the traction I need to start?
Here are three proven suggestions:
- Envision why you need to train leaders. If you clearly see why training leaders is one of the most strategic things you can do, it will translate into energy for the task and a compelling vision. Cast this vision strongly with your board or congregation and make the case for using a portion of your time for training others.
- Hand-pick your first cohort of “Timothy’s”. Approach those who you want to develop and see alongside you in the work. Then call them to be pioneers not simply students. Within the traditional schooling paradigm, students are consumers who expect a predictable experience which at every stage does something for them. Pioneers, though, know they are moving into uncharted territory in order to accomplish something important. They will benefit, but they also know larger matters are at stake. If your first participants see their role as pioneers, they will tolerate bumps in the road and will be enthusiastic about their role in helping you build a strong church-based leadership training program. Rather than the demands of ministry being a hindrance, it will be the expected environment where leadership development takes place.
- Follow our suggested first-term roll-out. During our Initial Certification Training we distribute a template entitled A First Term Scenario. Here we actually encourage certified leaders to launch training with the Life and Ministry Development portions of the program and wait until the second term before beginning the Leadership Series courses. In our experience this lays the right kind of foundation at the start for Antioch School students by emphasizing their holistic development rather than just completion of courses. However, the other benefit of this approach is that you have a more gradual ramp-up period as you launch an Antioch School program. You can begin with more flexible components of the training while still laying logistical groundwork for the rest.