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1.  Training by itself does not produce leaders.  God directs and superintends the development of leaders through life experiences.  Training is only a means.  Training is usually associated with the technological side of education in which the content, skill, and attitude development is focused on an application in a specific context.  In this sense, training produces skills that are repeatable in a given situation.  Education is broader and prepares the person as a whole for unpredictable situations.  Christian leaders are formed by God through a variety of experiences including various modes of education: formal, nonformal and informal.

While training alone does not produce a leader, it can enhance growth in a number of important directions of learning.  This is called the value-added definition of quality.  To the extent that the training adds value to the learner in terms of desired knowledge, desired characteristics, and desired skills, it can be described as offering transforming quality.

2.  The biblical view of humankind and its maturation provides principles for training.  Creational Developmentalism, a theory of learning that draws on the social sciences, affirms this biblical view of humanity.  The Bible speaks of the nature of persons as created in the image of God and therefore with tremendous potential for good.  While humankind has fallen and is therefore utterly bankrupt spiritually, God’s story of redemption addresses the sinful nature with hope, since through Christ and the Cross God has set down a process of transforming people.  This process is an incremental journey from birth until persons enter the presence of Christ (1 Cor. 13).  Christian spiritual formation occurs across a series of phases where God uses all of life’s processes to develop Christlikeness.

Development Theory supports the importance of personhood, human responsibility in development, and interactive nature of growth.  Developmentalists see growth in stages, look for evidences that accompany transformations from stage to stage, and understand the process as being lifelong with milestones representing fundamental change.  Committed to wholism, developmentalists see all aspects of life influencing and interacting with each other.

3.  Learning principles apply universally and interculturally to the formation of community leaders.  Developmentalists hold that persons in all cultures progress in their development in a similar manner.  The experiences of learning may vary widely as will the specific curricular design, but the principle of transformation remains constant.  Developmentalists have a particular view of human learning.  They see learning as a matter of growing.  On the other hand, the acquisitional view of learning sees learning as a matter of grasping and gaining.  The assumption in the developmental view is that learning depends upon experience.  The acquisitional view of learning, the apparent dominant paradigm in evangelical churches, depends on teaching.

4.  Norms defining Christian leadership are found in Scripture.  Biblical standards for leaders give content and weight to the leadership profile and become the basis for the evaluative criteria.  To be a Christian leader means displaying the qualities specified in the Scripture; it does not mean that leadership styles are expressed in a similar way in every setting or culture.

5.   Christian leadership training is primarily focused toward those persons who view themselves as responsible for their lives.  Therefore the assumptions of adult education are utilized in training.  These assumptions are that as individuals mature:

  • Their self-concept moves from one being a dependent personality toward being a self-directed human being
  • They accumulate a growing reservoir of experiences that becomes an increasingly rich resource for learning
  • Their readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of their social roles
  • Their time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly, their orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of performance-centeredness.

From With an Eye on the Future: Development and Mission in the 21st Century, Duane Elmer & Lois McKinney, Editors (Monrovia, California: Mission Advance Research Centre, 1996), pp. 141-152.







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