Mr. V was crushed. According to the outdated advertisement for the Lausanne Conference he was reading about online, he had just missed a gathering of pastoral trainers. He didn’t even know other people like him existed. “I thought I was the only one out there, doing this pastoral training thing.” His ministry was in need of connections and so much more…and then as if by divine intervention, a small ad caught his eye for something called the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers. He had never heard of it before but something told him this was his shot. This was one opportunity he would not let pass him by.
After the conclusion of the Congress, Mr. V sent along this short but great note:
“Since the GProCongress gathering in June I have conducted pastoral training in Argentina, Vietnam and Estonia. In total, I have trained 298 pastors and church leaders this year. Our global network of trainers had also trained over 7,500 pastors and church leaders in 2016! It has been a great year! Next year I have training planned in Costa Rica, Thailand, Senegal and the Ukraine. Two of those came from contacts I made at GPro!”
Mr. V’s pastoral training ministry, FaithLife Ministries, provides management and church leadership training to pastors and church leaders around the world through his curriculum, “Management for Church Leaders” (MCL), a practical manual containing Biblical principles for leading and managing a church that has been translated into over 20 languages. FaithLife’s Global Training Network of 59 authorized and qualified trainers are located in 30 nations around the world. The team trained 1,750 pastors this past year alone. The vision is to train 8,000 pastors over the next four years and long term the goal is to see the handbook taught in 100 nations.
Below is an excerpt from our interview with Mr. V:
GProConneXt: How did being at the GProCongress help you?
Every session affirmed and confirmed the need for training pastors on the church management side of things. My primary motivation for attending was to meet more global contacts from countries where we have not been able to take our training. Pastor N, our MCL Training Coordinator for India, recently took our training course to Bangladesh! This was a training opportunity that directly resulted from attending the GProCongress where we had met a Bangladesh pastoral leader who was interested in our MCL materials and requested that we come and train. Next Pastor N will be traveling to Sri Lanka, another new nation, also via a connection we made in Bangkok. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
GProConneXt: How did you get called to the ministry of pastoral training?
I was in the Direct Marketing business for 25 years. During this time, I started leading mission trips. My wife and I even formed a ministry so we could organize the trips ourselves and handle all of the finances. Initially, we started doing adult and children’s ministry training. After teaching one church administration class during a mission trip to the Philippines, the pastor asked if I would return and help teach church administration for a whole week. I didn’t have enough materials for a full week so I figured I would simply get materials on leadership at the Christian bookstore. Sadly, everything there was written for American churches, and clearly for people with technology access. I saw a tremendous area of need and realized the management skills and leadership knowledge I had acquired would greatly help pastors who were struggling with church management. That is when the MCL training manual was conceived. After I initially taught the material at a Bible school in the Philippines in 2002, the training went so well, I sent it to Kazakhstan and they invited me to come and teach it over there. Then Latvia. Then we added it to the website. Within 4 years, I was working in ministry full time.
GProConneXt: Can you share with us how you came to develop the curriculum and how it is utilized?
After that eye-opening trip to the bookstore, I began to start writing materials based on leadership principles learned from my 25 years in the business world as well as the Word of God. The handbook is a how-to, problem solving, management book from the Bible’s perspective, designed with fundamentals that any pastor in the world could benefit from with practical exercises including a budget plan, discipleship training, and conflict resolution. Often most pastors can only afford two days off so we can condense the entire training into two days and pare it down to the most important 12 chapters. One great element of the manual is that pastors who attend the training are then able to train others from it. In fact, 50 of the pastoral trainers in the Global Network joined the team after attending the training themselves because they they wanted to share what they learned. I am not a pastor but I want to help people become better pastors. For every principal and statement in our manual, we have Biblical support. We focus on doing the basics and doing them well but we don’t address theological issues. Bible schools and seminaries teach that quite well but, unfortunately, most don’t teach about leadership and management.
GProConneXt: Where did the goal of 100 countries originate?
Back in 2005, I would go wherever there was a need. Then I started wondering what the purpose of all the traveling was. I lacked focus and I was exhausted. Then one day, the Lord gave me a vision at 4AM one morning. The impression was loud and clear, “I want you to take this training to every 2nd and 3rd world country.” There were 100 countries that met the three criteria that the Lord gave me: a need for training, low economic development and low education level.
GProConneXt: What did you develop to meet this 100 country mandate?
It was clear that I needed to duplicate myself. This vision couldn’t end with me, so for this reason, the Global Training Network was developed. The seven people who attended the Kenyan training in 2005 had gone on to train more pastors. In 2008, in Uganda, a Kenyan pastor I had trained led half the sessions. The Kenyan leader understood his people and their needs, etc. He could speak to them much better than I could. From there, I knew I had to enable local pastors and teachers to teach. Now I travel, but much less. My time is spent encouraging the pastoral trainers on my team. At least one to two hours a day, I am tracking them, praying for them etc. Personally, I trained 39 last year but as a team we have trained 4,216 pastors in over 30 nations. Indeed the training is bearing fruit. One of many similar reports, a woman named S in India had decided to quit her ministry because of her failures and difficulties. She now says that “I am now encouraged by this training to go back, correct my mistakes, and continue my ministry!”
GProConneXt: How many are in your team of pastoral trainers and what does it take to become a trainer?
Currently there are 59 pastoral trainers on the team. Our trainers are usually nationals who are ministry leaders and have a passion for and focus on raising up national church leaders. Fifty of our trainers were trained by me when I came to their country. They attended the training and ran with it. For those who are not able to be trained by me personally, I send an exam before certifying. Once they take it and pass, they are then authorized to teach and train others. It is preferable and necessary that they speak conversational English so that we can communicate with one another. We have always given pastors free usage of the handbook and any other tools I create, whether it’s training videos or the trainer’s guide, but the network was designed with the idea that pastoral trainers commit to doing at minimum one training a year. Through this system, 3,100 pastors have been trained this year (2017) alone and 132 conferences were held by various trainers all over the globe last year.
How is the work financed?
We raise all of the funds here in the USA for our ministry. We use those funds to support our family, travel overseas to train, and to support our trainer network. Our policy is that when a new trainer comes on board, they have to finance the first training themselves to demonstrate their commitment to training. Then the agreement is I will provide funding if you are not able to raise it, but you must commit to doing one training a year. Any pastoral trainer who wants to do a training can send in a funding request. I typically provide $200 to $300 for each training. This includes printing copies of the manuals and providing lunch. The translation is done by a local volunteer whenever possible to save money.
GProConneXt: What is the greatest challenge you face?
Our greatest needs are FUNDING and DISCERNMENT. I am very concerned that the trainers not be dependent on me financially. One day the Lord is going to take me home and the ministry needs to be able to sustain itself. This can’t die with me but has to live on. We are making some progress, for 81 of the 132 trainings this year, I provided the funds but 51 were paid for by the trainers working with the local pastors. The number of trainings can only increase as our self-financed trainings grow. We are also greatly in need of in-country contacts and trainers for the other 31 nations we have not reached yet.
GProConneXt: What can we do to help? We are praying for contacts and people who are interested in the training in the countries we have not been to yet: Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Angola, Gambia, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Egypt, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Papua New Guinea.
If you are a trainer or an aspiring trainer in one of the above countries and would like to know more about this, please contact Barry here.
The Management for Church Leaders Volume #1 Training Manual, translated into 22 languages will be available soon through through the generosity of FaithLife ministries. An announcement will be made through GProCommission News so stay tuned.