Stop Training People

Dr. Jay Randall /Monday, April 19, 2021


Stop training. 

You are probably wasting your time and that of those you are training!  Seriously! 

I say that as a trainer of church planters, church leaders, and church planting catalysts or multipliers.  How many hours do we spend training people?  If we count going to conferences as part of training or retraining, how much time does that add?  And what results are we seeing? 

Please don’t stop reading yet!  I still train and I do organize training events.  But they have changed quite a bit. 

As North Americans we often are tempted to do what I call the Info Dump.  We try to pack as much information as we can into that training session or that workshop.  Underlying the Info Dump is the idea that what people need is more information.  Information = transformation!   But I feel after years of experience that is false. 

We used to train church planters using a four-day barrage of information called a Church Planter’s Bootcamp.  Today we train church planters monthly over two years using reading assignments, small group discussions, focus on application, and follow up by a trained coach. 

Head, Heart, Hands & Relationships

What makes people change? 

What transforms people and helps them become better disciples or leaders? 

It is not lots more information!  It is changes in thinking yes, but also changes in attitudes, habits, and time for people to see the results of trying new things.  Most people need follow up and some form of accountability to move forward past their own reluctance to change.   

As I design training or training programs, I think through four categories that good training needs to impact:  HEAD (knowledge), HEART (character), HANDS (skills), and RELATIONSHIPS.  The Info Dump touches mostly the head and sometimes little else.

Better training focuses on how to change attitudes (character), decision making (knowledge and character), helps develop skills and habits, and improves relationships.  Good coaching and/or peer accountability can help create greater transformation in all four areas. 

Let’s also think about how Jesus and Paul trained leaders.  They walked with them over time, investing in them, watching them, and giving feedback.  While it was not coaching, it was closer to coaching than our seminar and classroom training methods.  And the leaders that Jesus and Paul trained multiplied themselves many times over.  Effective training! 

If you are training people and not following up the training with a means of evaluation or observation to see what is ‘sticking’ and what is not, what is being applied and how it is being applied, you may be wasting your time and their time! 

We love to create events and train people and tick the box that we got that done.  But if no one really changes, if they attend training but do not apply the training, it is a waste of Kingdom resources and everyone is actually further BEHIND than further AHEAD.  If there is little fruit, people may become turned off to being trained.

Better & Smarter

How can we train better and smarter?  If I might suggest a few things based upon both statistics and observations made over years of training church planters: 

1. Less is often more. 

It is better to help people make fewer but deeper changes than trying to cover too much ground.

2. Change is hard for most people, even leaders. 

Coaching or small peer groups working together and holding each other accountable to apply training is worth the investment in time and effort. 

Some studies indicate that training with coaching is 40% more effective than training alone.  We know that support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous help people make enormous changes in their lives through support and accountability. 

We cannot simply train people and leave them alone to work through applying the training! 

3. Make training part of a long-term development plan for people, tied to a possible leadership role or responsibility.

I have seen people make enormous changes in their lives when offered long term training that leads to new responsibilities and a more important role.  Some have even changed jobs simply for the chance to get trained to assume a new ministry role. 

Training people without a role where they can apply the training forces trainees find a place to use their new skills or knowledge.  It is easier if they are GIVEN a place to try out their new skills and knowledge.  

If you are training people how to share their faith for example, create a Good News team, or if training them how to teach, offer dates when they might be able to team teach with someone else and try out their new skills.  The training becomes valuable once people can see where it leads.

Let’s Stop Training

Let’s stop training! 

At least until we better think through how to help people change and grow.  Let’s abandon the Info Dump kind of training and touch the Heart, the Hands, and Relationships. 

Effective training with coaching, with support, and a plan for tangible application brings hope to everyone involved and creates new generations of disciples and leaders. 

You can do this – if you stop and think about how people truly change.  It is not because you filled their head with knowledge!

Dr. Jay Randall is a “church planting catalyst” who trains, coaches, and evaluates church planters in Québec. 









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