T4T: Training for Trainers

To learn how T4T and other forms of Reproducing Discipleship are impacting the U.S., see the Mar/Apr 2014 issue of Mission Frontiers.

Effective, Multiplying Evangelism and Discipleship

 

Imagine teaching someone piano theory but never putting them in front of a keyboard.

Would this train them to play, and enable them to teach others who could teach others?

As unthinkable as this is, this is how we often approach the world’s most important teaching assignment—Jesus’ command to disciple all nations by going, baptizing and training them to obey all He commanded.

Now, mission field breakthroughs are rediscovering the multiplication principles revealed in the book of Acts.

The Greatest Breakthrough since Pentecost?

Many mission fields still experience slow growth, but an increasing number are seeing dramatic multiplication, of both believers and churches, in a pattern which has come to be known as “Church Planting Movements” or “CPMs.”

As defined by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, a Church Planting Movement is

a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.

Two decades ago, as missionaries sought to discover how to prepare for and participate in such moves of the Holy Spirit, they developed a notebook containing 100 ideas to try toward launching CPMs in difficult places.

ONE of these CPMs has proven so successful that the notebook has since been discarded in favor of the “best practices” revealed in T4T—a CPM which has been adapted and implemented in a wide variety of contexts around the world, among Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and even Postmodernists here in the U.S.

Ying Kai’s Story

A decade ago in Asia, this successful church planter faced a new challenge.

Up to that point Ying and his wife Grace had been planting one church a year—winning 40 to 60 people to Christ, organizing them, then moving to a new city to start over. As you can imagine, his ministry was considered very successful.

Then he was taught the principles of “Church Planting Movements” and asked to seek God for a movement that would reach a three-city area enfolding 20 million people, among whom there were almost no believers.

Ying sensed the Holy Spirit ask him, “Ying, what is better than planting churches?” Ying couldn’t think of anything, so the Holy Spirit gave him the answer: “Training others to plant churches.”

Ying became excited about training others to do what he was doing, but before he finished praying he sensed the Holy Spirit asking him, “Ying, what is better than training others to plant churches?” Again, Ying was at a loss. What could be better?

Then again he sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to him: “Training others to train others to plant churches!”

The Fruit

Ying met a pastor who invited his members to receive training from Ying in evangelism, and 30 people came. He presented what he thought was an ambitious plan, to plant 200 new gatherings of believers over the next three years. But as he taught them he kept hearing the same questions, representing obstacles which kept them from winning the lost to Christ and planting new, reproducing gatherings of believers:

  • What do I say?
  • Who do I talk to?
  • What makes you think I will follow through?
  • What do I do if they say “Yes”?

As Ying answered these four questions, He saw God change these average believers into confident and competent partners in the Spirit’s work of winning the lost, multiplying new believers and starting gatherings of believers.

Within a few weeks they had started 20 new groups! Seven months later, Ying could count 320 new groups that had formed with 4,000 newly baptized believers. Already he had exceeded his ambitious three-year goals, and the work kept growing at an exponential rate.

Skepticism

You can imagine the skepticism such reports generated! So an outside research assessment team visited the work the following year. What they found was that, rather than exaggerating the numbers, Ying had been consistently under-reporting—by as much as 40%.

Some gatherings had reproduced 17 times in just a year and a half!

In its first decade, this movement started 170,000 new gatherings, involving two million newly baptized believers who have learned to mine God’s word together and continue multiplying under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Adaptation and application of T4T principles is now accelerating other CPMs around the world!

So What is T4T?

“T4T” is short for “Training for Trainers.”

This movement is based on a few simple concepts:

  1. In Mt 28:18-20, Jesus commanded us to:
    • GO to the lost rather than waiting for (or just inviting) them to come to our church, etc.,
    • TRAIN everyone to obey, rather than just telling them how or what to think, and
    • train them to obey “everything Jesus commanded.”
  2. CPM strategists have found that “everything Jesus commanded” can be taught in just a few broad categories, all of which can be obeyed immediately:
    • Repent, Be Baptized, and Receive the Holy Spirit,
    • Go, Baptize, and Disciple others to Obey these Same Commands,
    • Pray in Jesus’ Name,
    • Love God, Neighbors, Believers and Enemies,
    • Celebrate the Lord’s Supper,
    • Give Generously, and
    • Abide in Jesus and His Word.
  3. While we can continue to grow in understanding and obeying each of these commands all our lives, just one reproducible lesson provides enough of a foundation for anyone to immediately start obeying—and teaching others to obey—even while both disciple and discipler are progressing through additional lessons.
  4. People grow fastest as they obey and teach—the sooner they obey and teach others, the faster they grow; and the more likely a movement is to break out.

Resources for Adapting T4T to Other Contexts

buy it hereDavid Garrison is a global expert on Church Planting Movements. In fact, he wrote the book Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World.

MF Issue on Church Planting Movements

David was also the guest editor for the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of Mission Frontiers on Church Planting Movements.

David has described the core principles of T4T in this series of short, free, on-line videos, starting with this one:

 

T4T-online These videos complement Steve Smith’s book—T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, and were designed to accompany the on-line materials at T4Tonline.org, which supplement this book.

T4T: A Discipleship Re-RevolutionBrowse the book or purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, or get the best hard copy and volume pricing from WIGtake Resources.