The Newbies: We do most of our Antioch School Initial Certification Training online using Webex, but the conference is one of the few times when we offer the training live. We had an excellent group of church leaders that extended from rural eastern Iowa to urban eastern Africa (Kenya)! Some were focused on using BILD resources for their own modest-sized churches, while others were preparing for large-scale implementation for an entire country (Sierra Leone). It is always exciting to discover the ambitions of those who attend the initial training. For instance, some are eager to bring the BILD resources and Antioch School programs to their church networks in North America and around the world. You will be hearing more about some of these folks in months and years to come as we hope to tell their stories in this blog.
The Oldies: Dozens of church leaders participated in the Ongoing Training in order to maintain their Antioch School certification. Mostly, this meant that they took part in workshops to help them be better equipped to teach the BILD Leadership Series courses. Nine different two-day course workshops were offered during the conference. In some cases, church leaders took workshops for courses they had already taught. It was not unusual to hear them remark, “So, that is how I was supposed to teach the course.” At one level, the BILD courses teach themselves, but at another level, it is helpful to have the input of those with vast experience teaching BILD courses.
The Goodies: (Feedback and Networking Opportunities– Positive and Negative) During lunch on Tuesday and Thursday, many Antioch School Certified Leaders met for a partner forum (think “Antioch School users group”). They shared things that they really appreciate about BILD and the Antioch School, including some that came somewhat by surprise. For instance, several reported about the mindset changes that have happened in their churches as they have adopted a broader view of ministry and what it means for leaders to be trained. Others gave testimony about the impact of various BILD resources, such as the SIMA MAP, the Personal Development Plan, and the First Principles especially for people in their churches beyond those enrolled in the Antioch School. A group of pastors in rural Iowa and a group in New England expressed interest in forming regional/affinity groups so that others will not feel all alone, but will have an ongoing community in which to address issues. We will be announcing more about these in the near future.
The Not-So-Goodies: The “Antioch School users group” also uncovered some challenges being faced by those using BILD resources and Antioch School degree programs. Some are struggling with implementation because they don’t have complete buy-in from their leadership team. Others are having difficulty getting students to post work in e-Portfolios and/or being confident in doing portfolio assessment. There were several expressions of interest in having more samples of the Antioch School’s non-traditional components, such as the Ministry Practicum Report and SIMA MAP Responses. We hope to provide additional support in these areas in months to come because we are committed to serving our partners and trying to improve our service.
The Biggies: The plenary sessions at the BILD conference are not just big in number of people attending. They are huge in terms of the ideas presented. This year, Jeff Reed challenged us from the perspective of “shadow cities” (urban slums) as being strategic in the spontaneous expansion of the church. It included four big ideas: 1) Global Cities are the new Roman Road, 2) Shadow Cities present enormous opportunities and challenges, 3) Bottom-of-the-Pyramid investment (with the poorest billion people) provides a mutual benefit, and 4) Church benefactors are key because “the money is in the pews” of evangelical churches. Randy Kennedy, Asia Strategy Director of the Maclellan Foundation, also presented “Asia Review: Growth of the Church and Presenting Opportunities.” In coming weeks, we will feature highlights and video links to these various presentations.
The Cronies: Often, we hear that someone’s highlight of the BILD conference was the opportunity to meet and hang out with the indigenous apostolic leader of a massive movement of God somewhere in the world. BILD’s partners represent some of the most exciting things that God is doing, particularly in strategic places like India. In just a matter of a few days, deep friendships are formed and ministry partnerships are initiated. This year, the BILD conference was focused on leaders of church planting movements and church networks that are more advanced in their use of the BILD resources. We heard numerous testimonies of how much participants enjoyed the opportunity to be with these seasoned BILD partners.
So, why do we tell you all of this? On one hand, we want to give a report. On the other hand, we want you to start making plans now to participate next year so that you will be able to give your own report.
Mark your calendar now for November 4-9, 2013.