Passing on biblically faithful training to an individual, to a small group of church leaders or even to a conference is a relatively straightforward task, despite all the obstacles. But how do you gain the trust of a large group of churches, a diocese or a province, so that a training programme is owned and embedded and bears fruit for the long-term?
One of the phrases that BUILD’s training-of-trainers uses from time to time, but which does not appear in its materials, is the need in many contexts for sensitisation to be both “top-down and bottom-up”. So it was encouraging to have feedback from a trainee-trainer two weeks ago, one who is in a sensitisation phase with a diocese in the west of Kenya. In his words, but with italics added, he shared this:
“Once I had captured the vision and mission of BUILD in the life of the Church and society, I shared the same with the Diocesan Bishop, together with the Administrative Secretary. Their response was positive and they promised to study the introductory unit of Module One that I issued to them. I used both top-down and bottom-up approaches at this stage. I used the top-down approach while introducing the programme, I then applied bottom-up in selection. This is because I thought of beginning in a smaller way after being given the Light by my superiors.”
It almost reads like Nehemiah’s own narrative, which is so full of prayerful and practical wisdom. Although the trainer himself is ordained, he continued to share how he drew in a local, but more senior clergyman to be his supervisor in the initiative, someone who in effect connects the ‘top-down’ with the ‘bottom-up’. This was not only in order to gain wider local trust but also to give that leader their own sense of pride in the work, ownership that was then evidenced in the fact that this leader, rather than the junior trainee who so wisely submitted to his authority, went on to recommend the training to the local leaders in the area in this way:
“Rev Bernard commended this programme to them as a tool for empowering us to be effective leaders of the church. He encouraged the participants to make wise use of this opportunity that God has given to us for the betterment of our spiritual growth, church strengthening and community transformation.”
It may just be a beginning, but it is a sound one thanks to one individual’s grasp of the need for “top-down and bottom-up approaches” to fostering the genuine ownership of BUILD.