Training when you don’t have spare time

How do you train your people when you are just a single pastor on your own? The work of training people can just seem overwhelming. Even in a small church, where it might seem easier on some level to pour into everybody, it generally isn’t possible to pour into all people in equal measure. What do you do?

I think there is wisdom in the idea of multiplying ministry. A single pastor might not be able to pour into everybody as well as he needs, but it might be possible for him to devote some attention to training two or three particular people. The idea here isn’t to try and create a set of favourites who get some special attention, but to pour into some people well with a view to them going off and doing the same with two or three others themselves.

The theory goes that the pastor gives himself to training up two or three, who learn from the pastor and each train two or three who, in turn, go and train two or three. Just doing that with three people, who each do it with three people, in theory leads to 12 people being trained. If that keeps multiplying, in theory, everybody eventually gets trained. I appreciate theory and practice do not always coincide, but I think there is something in it.

But how do you find the time to train somebody when you’re already stretched? The only way I can see to do it is to pull them into what you’re already doing. If you train people by putting on special stuff for them, you are effectively giving a false impression of what is going on anyway. But if you bring them along when you preach (they’re probably there already) so that they see you doing it, they have a reasonable chance of seeing how they do it. If you bring them into your office when you’re prepping a sermon, they will see what that looks like too and will get a sense of how to do it when they get a go. If you bring them with you when you go on pastoral visits, they will see how you do those too and will have some sense of how to handle them when they get there. If you’re doing some evangelistic thing, or discipleship thing, or whatever it is, pull them along with you so they can see you doing it and then give them a go later.

What that effectively means is that you don’t need extra time to train people. You just need to bring them into what you’re doing already. It may be that you don’t pull the same person along with you every time, but you invite different people to different pastoral meetings or whatever. But if you try to bring people into what you’re already doing, it doesn’t require extra time and it gives a more realistic picture of what ministry is like in reality.

You might need to build in some time where you sit down and talk with folk about what they have seen and how they might do it if and when they are ever in the same position. But that can equally be done over lunch, tea or informally whilst you’re doing other things. It doesn’t have to require a specific, formal time of its own. Again, it means you aren’t having to find extra time that you don’t have in reality.

Training might seem daunting and like it will eat into all the time you have. But it doesn’t have to necessarily. Maybe, whilst we’re still in the mode of new year’s resolutions, you could find one or two people you might pour into this way. Take them with you to things, show them what you do and then give them a chance to try and do the same. It’s certainly what I’ll be trying to do more of this year. Who knows, maybe you’ll get further with training than you think.