Healthy Leaders


Building and Training: What is the Difference?

Raj ChelvarajRaj Chelvaraj

I read an article by Pastor Dan Reiland several years ago on “What is the difference between equipping and developing?” I have taken these thoughts to show the difference between builders of people versus just trainers of people.

Here are my explanations on these differences:

Training is preparing someone for a specific ministry task.

The training skill (or equipping) is as clear-cut as preparing a Bible study teacher or a small group leader to learn how to communicate truth to a group in an interactive and clear way. Training is transactionalit’s an exchange.

There is nothing wrong with the exchange system; most of life is based upon it.  Though transaction is good, building life is still needed and is extremely important.  For now, we’ll focus on the value of exchange. I’ll train you to be a great Sunday school teacher, if you’ll teach Sunday school. Or I will teach church planting, if you go and plant churches. It’s a productive win-win.

Training is based largely on the church’s or organizational agenda. 

That’s okay! If it’s a Great Commission Church or an organization ‒ it’s God’s agenda too!  But we must be careful not to allow training to become so inward focused that we’re spending too much energy protecting our turf, rather than taking new territory for Christ and building life in people.

If we focus on building people we will do the following:

As builders we will be secure in our calling.

We will see our involvement as a life-ministry and not just as “training course.”  

As builders we will have perspective and understanding.

We will have perspective and understanding as to why we don’t just give certificates and degrees at the end of a course.

As builders we will be part of the empowering process that sets others free.

We will continue to feel comfortable by sharing who we are and where we are in our lives as developers; and being part of the empowering process that sets them free to achieve all that God has for them. I am not talking about a mystical, weird thing. But I am talking about investing in people without strings attached. We will give ourselves to others in the form of a gift.

As builders we will invest in students with a long-term focus in mind.

This is not a short-term project. Because you and I don’t know what So-and-So will be like in twenty years.

As builders we will be able to see people as who they can become, not just as they are.

Think about the people who initially cared enough to see the potential in you! Some of us would not be here if it weren’t for these mentors.

As builders we realize that developing people is not an instant process.

The process is not just an “add water and stir” process or “crush the fruit and out comes the juice.” It takes time!

As builders we will continue to see the importance of both formal structures and informal connections in our courses as part of the developmental process.

We are not wasting our time in being part of the course as staff, or sitting in lectures, or having fun times etc., because the informal connections give us the relational warmth to balance out the formal structure of the program or course.

As builders we see the value of each staff and leader in our organization.

We will not feel threatened when others interact with our students, teach in our courses, encourage our students because we see that everyone has something unique to offer as individuals. (We will not be worried about protecting our own “turf” but see our individual courses fitting into the whole developmental process).

As builders we have the opportunity to see each person’s experience.

What’s on their mind and heart? What makes them tick? What are their strengths and passions? What do they dream about? How do they envision their ministry partnership? What’s their preferred style of learning and communication? What is their vision and mission?

As builders, we will be motivated enough to sow seeds that will have a multi-generational effect.

Although we should aspire to train and build, my encouragement is that we continue to focus on building life in people and by doing so, we will end up transforming people in the long haul.

Let’s not get discouraged if some of our courses don’t show immediate results. Instead, let’s focus our eyes on our God who works His promises through generations. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His promise about the coming of Jesus was worked out through several generations. Let’s keep this mind and work together to truly bring change in our nation.

“If you don’t train people, your church (organization) won’t get off the ground … If you build them, your church or organization will soar!”

I finish with a quote from Peter Drucker’ book, Managing the Non-Profit Organization:

Any organization develops people; it has no choice. It either helps them grow or stunts them. It either forms them or it deforms them.

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