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The Secret Sauce of Event Training: The Third 10

by Chuck Wood

Jeff and Angie Sundell, Troy and Rachel Long Cooper, and Deb and I recently spent some time reviewing the formation and growth of NPL over the last 10 years. One of our key takeaways was the power of Event Training. I’d like to start sharing why I think Event Training was so crucial to the world-wide vision we now call NoPlaceLeft.

21. Less is More

One of the mistakes I think we made in the beginning is that we overloaded people with content. We would teach 30 modules in a four-day time span, sun up to late at night with no breaks. How much can people really retain? Look at your schedule and automatically assume you won’t cover everything. Choose the modules that your people absolutely need and cut the rest. Leave room for people to connect, think and pray.

22. Intensives are Intense

We say “Less is More” but a Four Fields Intensive is supposed to be…well…intense. You do have a lot of ground to cover. You are breaking people’s paradigms. At times intensives get downright emotional. If you’ve never been to one before, beware, Monday morning you’re going to wake up with a “training hangover.” (That’s Trainees and Trainers alike!) So tell people to fasten their seatbelts, it’s going to be a wild ride.

23. Meeting Leak

Have you ever noticed how the attendance at NPL trainings drops a little each day? Yes, people are leaving your training and the group gets smaller and smaller. I was talking to another trainer who wanted to incentivize attendance to the end. Don’t do it! I see meeting leak as a good thing! I’m not looking for people that lose interest in a few hours of training. I’m looking for people who will be in it for the long haul. The motivation to stay in the training is the training!

24. Large Chunks of Scripture

We study Scriptures like Luke 8-10, Act 13-15, 16-18, or 19-20 in about 40 minutes. This frustrates most disciples because they’re not used to climbing to the 30,000 foot level of the narrative. They want to discuss every verse in excruciating detail. There is a place for that. But we are training them to see the big picture, the overarching principles, and the strategic patterns. You’re going to hear a lot of moaning and groaning when you do this. Stick to it. They will thank you later.

25. Swarm Training

Swarm training is like a swarm of bees. They buzz in, create the buzz, and recruit more bees to the buzz (the vision). It’s the way we bring the next generation of disciple-maker up to “shoulder height.” But you can have too many bees in the hive! Usually, we are looking for 4-5 trainers at an event. Have too many trainers? Help them start planning their own training event! Multiply! (Remember the “Guru Mentality” does not multiply)

26. Adult Learning Model

This is SO important! Stop training people in rows facing you! This may be a great teaching method but it is a terrible training method. Break the crowd down into small groups. Give them something to discuss and go through a self-discovery process. Then bring them back for a debrief for the whole crowd. You can fill in any gaps. I guarantee you your trainees will be much more engaged and you’ll find the emerging leaders a lot faster than if you merely preach at them.

27. The Cool Uncle Effect

Anyone who has raised kids knows this phenomenon. You’ve told your kids the same thing a hundred times and then the “cool uncle” comes over and says it once and the kids turn to you with the “why didn’t you tell me?” expression on their cute little faces. Disciple-making has the same phenomena. So instead of instruction by happenchance, make it happen. Invites some trainers from outside your network to swarm train with you and reinforce the things your folks aren’t grasping.

28. Practice Practice Practice

Do you want something to reproduce? Practice it! Stop the information download and have the trainees tell or show others in their small groups what they are learning. If its a particular ministry skill, have them practice it until they are competent, confident and committed. Two big reasons things don’t reproduce; 1) We have not explicitly stated an expectation for reproduction and 2) people don’t feel confident enough to do what we did. Practice is key to reproduction.

29. Getting to Church

In the Army, we said, “Train as you fight.” In other words, make it as close to the real thing as possible. If we train one way and expect the people to do it another, things will certainly get lost in translation. So in our training, we train people to BE the church, right there in the training. We call it church. We act like the church. We expect people to go and start a church. Not everyone will or has to, but at least they have seen it modeled.

30. Failing Forward

One of the hallmark character traits of a trainer is humility. You have to be humble enough to know you don’t have all the answers and courageous enough to try something and fail. Ironically, most people are afraid to fail but once they get the hang of something they have now become the expert. We must avoid these two at all costs. We will keep “Failing Forward.” This has been our mantra from the very beginning. We have the courage to try and the humility to stay teachable.



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