We are a Biblical leadership development ministry that develops Christ-like leaders through training and service- one purpose with two arms. Though this may seem unorthodox, we believe it is more effective long-term and we hope more training ministries will catch this vision. Here are a few reasons we believe this model works well.
1. Obedience: Great Commission and Great Commandment
If we are making Christ-like disciples, we must obey. Jesus equipped his disciples through teaching and service, proactive training and responsive relief, head-learning and hand-practice. This leadership strategy was intentionally dualistic and they are summarized in two commands: The Great Commission (“make disciples through baptizing and teaching to obey” in Matthew 28:18-20) and the Great Commandment (“love God and love others” in Mark 12:29-31). Teaching alone does not fulfil these commands. Obedience is required and to obey Christ is to love God and others. These two commands are not competing, but mutually energizing. Loving obedience is the goal of teaching and teaching is fuel for obedience. Thus, these commands are indispensable from each other. One cannot make disciples without loving God, which requires knowing his words (John 14:15), and a true disciple is one who loves others.
The Great Commission and Great Commandment are one path with two sides, like the guardrails of a road. Walking in them brings freedom and life. If we drift to one and neglect the other, we risk going off the path.
2. Witness: A platform for the gospel
Our obedience matters because the world is watching the Church. For the sake of integrity, we and our leaders must practice what we preach for we are the hands and feet of Christ. Our actions represent Christ. Jesus said that the validity of our witness is in the fruit that we bear (Matthew 7:16) and the primary fruit is love (John 13:35).
Actions, not just words, identify us with Jesus and Jesus’ actions were always loving. The apostle Paul says that we gain nothing if our good works do not have love (1 Corinthians 13:1-4). So godly love is not just an action but also an aroma (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Jesus said the greatest act of love is not teaching but laying down our life for others, as he did for us (John 15:13).
When we love others, we reveal Christ to the world and participate in God’s work of reconciling the world (1 Corinthians 5:18-20). Selfless service for the lost and hurting reveals God’s love and presence and draws the world towards Him, which is the goal of godly leadership. In Mark 8:36, Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” We would say, what good is it for a hungry person to receive food but not eternal life?
Truth and love work together to be an effective witness. People must allow truth to come into their heart. So, love is the “knock” on the door that causes people to open their heart. And, when that door is opened, a godly leader must be prepared to speak truth in love. We must equip church leaders to do both.
3. Transformation: The goal of training
Our vision is personal, church and community transformation, not just education. Transformation begins with information, but it does not end there. Transformation happens when we engage people holistically and this is certainly true in leadership development. Training Christ-like leaders cannot be a purely intellectual exercise. Leadership requires head, heart and hands and service grows our leadership muscles.
Leaders need holistic training to be fully transformed. In the classroom leaders may learn why God wants us to have compassion, but that is only theoretical until a leader puts that into practice and serves people. Real transformation is needed at the heart level and that happens when head and hands come together.
Intellectual growth without practical field expression creates teacher more than practitioners and leaders in the developing world must lead by example. Thus, training should be outward focused and those leading training should set a precedence to shift the leadership culture to be measured in transformation instead of certificates. Leaders in the Majority world see the need for community transformation (corruption, poverty, disease, famine, etc.). A Christ-like leader will see these not as obstacles but as opportunities to reveal God.
4. Stewardship: Using God’s gifts
Our goal is to see Christ-like leaders engage their churches and communities with the gospel. Thus, we must steward that vision from start to finish, when we can help. Our mandate is, by nature, more professional than academic and hence it must be practical to steward our mission. It is not a program for people to take time off from ministry. It is “on the job” training for those already leading.
For those in our leadership program, outreach is a tool that enhances their application of learning. Service is a tool that God puts into their hands as capable and responsible leaders. Scripture says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18, NIV). This applies to our directors, coordinators, teachers and students.
Godly stewardship begins with examination of the needs around us and the gifts in our hands and then concludes with how we can help. We value the relationships we’ve built with leaders, churches and denominations as one of our most precious gifts. Stewarding that means serving those leaders and empowering their local vision. We believe God has given us key relationships in strategic nations with opportunities to release and empower His vision in their hearts. Our job is not to use students to implement our vision and we have seen the fruit of coming alongside those we train and equipping their leadership to accomplish God’s vision.