The Secret Sauce of NPL Event Training

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 1) 

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.

What is Event Training? (Part 2) 

An Event Training is usually a gathering of existing believers to catalyze evangelism, disciple-making, church planting, and/or leadership development. We have facilitated Gospel Conversation Training (411), Four Field Intensives (Comprehensive Movement Strategy), Mid-Levels (Problem Solving) and Strategy Coordinator Training. Each one of these trainings are focused on levels of Competence, Confidence, and Commitment to seeing a movement of the gospel in a local/global expression of practice. The goal is to see the glory of Jesus spread to the ends of the earth until there is NoPlaceLeft.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 3) – Prayer is Key

The 1st Principle of Church Planting Movements is Passionate Prayer. Our training needs to be a prayer sandwich; A big slab of prayer between two slices of prayer. Are we going to do anything of significance if the Holy Spirit isn’t in the training? Any good thing that comes out of a training is a miracle (and we’ve done enough trainings to know!)  So we pray and fast before, we pray during the training, and we pray like crazy afterward so our work is not in vain.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 4) – The Beginning of Gospel Saturation 

The 2nd Principle of Church Planting Movements is Abundant Seed Sowing. When we do a “Gospel Conversation Training” where the trainees actually go out and share the gospel, it impacts the community. I’m guessing it may even be a 500% increase in evangelism in some towns or cities! Of course, the goal is a sustainable daily evangelistic effort, but it’s a start. Every time we train a person to train someone else to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we get one step closer to NoPlaceLeft.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 5) – No Gospeling, No Training

When we do a Gospel Conversation Training, we always leave time to actually go out and practice what we learned. In fact, if someone tells us, “We just want the training. We won’t be going out.” We politely suggest they try another program. Training means doing what we learned. Don’t train people to do things they are unwilling to do. It will give them a false sense of accomplishment and spirituality. And in the end, we are no closer to NoPlaceLeft or obeying Jesus.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 6) – Humility, Courage, and Faith

When we send people out to share the gospel, we’re actually molding their character. It takes humility, courage, and faith to share the gospel and make disciples. The Lord Jesus is not only interested in what His disciples “do” but also who they “are.” It’s not just about the outer works but the inner man as well. We can’t rob the People of God of this vital development because it’s outside their “comfort zone.” Send them out! (John 17.18)

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 7) – Obedience is Success, Results are a Blessing

There are controllables and uncontrollables in movements. Sharing the gospel is controllable, leading people to Christ is not. Teaching people how to be a healthy church is a controllable, planting a church is not. Prayer and fasting is a controllable, movement is not. If you want to start a movement, you might be sorely disappointed. But if you want to align your heart with the Father’s and if you want to love Jesus, you’ve come to the right place. Our obedience is reward enough and we leave the results to the Master.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 8) – Look for the “Doers”

In the introductory trainings (411 & Intensives) you’re looking for the people that actually put the training into practice. We call these folks the “Doers.” (James 1.22) It’s usually 1-2%. We know that number seems low but these are your 4th Soil people who will multiply. To find this kind of person you have to 1) Give them something to do and 2) Follow up to see if they did it. Otherwise, it’s like going fishing with no hook, you’re just throwing worms in the water.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 9) – The Real Training Happens After the Event

Rarely does a person completely capture the training on the first go. But it does pique their interest enough to get involved. Take this kind of person under your wing and begin to invest the time it will take for the new disciple to become Confident, Competent, and Committed. They need Coaching and Mentoring on a weekly basis.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 10) – A Catalyst is Cool but the Coach/Mentor Gets Traction

We’ve seen a lot of people who have been to a catalytic training and are fired up but don’t have a clue on what to do next. We need to train in such a way that we give people “Handles” on their newfound vision as disciple-makers. Catalyst are great at casting vision but it’s the coach/mentor who is going to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 11) – New Trainers Get the Real Training

What is the best way to learn something? Teach it! This insight will dictate the focus of our training efforts. The focus is on the new trainer, not the trainees. This can be messy.  But if we are primarily concerned about the people who showed up for the training, we would only have the Guru teaching. The Guru mentality does not multiply. I say that the trainees are well fed guinea pigs, it’s the new trainer I’m focused on. 

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 12) – Getting “Sundelled”

Jeff Sundell knows how to train trainers. Time and time again we would be minding our own business as a student and Jeff would come up behind one of us and whisper in our ear, “You’re teaching the next module.” What?! It was uncomfortable and nerve racking. It was testing the trainer’s metal. Were we training from experience or was it just theory?  We joke about being “Sundelled” but believe it or not we loved the challenge. It developed a sense of comradery and confidence. Challenge and stretch your trainers.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 13) – Reproduce Everything

I had a good mentor as a young disciple. He taught me to reproduce everything. Monkey see, monkey do. So when I started attending NPL trainings, I just brought it back to San Antonio and reproduced it. I went to a 411, I came back and trained someone else in 411. I went to a Mid-Level, I came back and trained a Mid-Level. And don’t think you have to reproduce all of it right away. Just start reproducing what you can AND train others to start reproducing the same.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 14) – Three Touch Training

Troy Cooper started rolling out “Three Touch Trainings.” Pure Genius! The first training, the “first touch,” he and his team would do 100% of the training. The second training was 50% his team and 50% new trainers from those who attended the first training. And the third training, the “third touch,” was 100% new trainers from the previous trainings and Troy’s team just watched and gave feedback. Remember what I said about the new trainer being the focus? BOOM!

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 15) – No Application, No Bueno 

Every training day ends with a “So what are you going to do about it” session. Trainees pray, write, and share their goals with one another. They are not cold hard goals that can’t be changed but they are the first steps toward applying what they have learned. Always (and I mean always) leave space in the training for people to reflect and pray about how they are going to put their training into action. Help them be a “Doer.”

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 16) – Know the Cornerstone

Each training has a “Cornerstone” event or module. For the Gospel Conversation Training, it is going out and actually sharing the gospel. For a Four Fields Intensive, it’s the Luke/Acts Bible study (the Biblical basis for a movement strategy). And for a Mid-Level, it’s Iron on Iron, a collaborative assessment and problem solving tool. When you develop a schedule for training you’ll have to make some cuts. You’re not going to have time to train everything. You can unwittingly cut the cornerstone. Keep the Cornerstone!

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 17) – Make it About Jesus

Speaking of cornerstones, Jesus is THE Cornerstone. (Eph 2.19-20) We must make sure that our training elevates and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. That may seem like a “No Brainer” but believe me, if we are not careful, we can completely ignore the King of kings. A quick example: Paul’s journeys are cool and we can learn great ministry strategy from them. But don’t let it get past your trainees, it was Jesus’ pattern that the apostle followed in an effort to preach and glorify HIS name.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 18) – Know the Punchline

Ever tell a joke and forget the punchline? Embarrassing, right? Well, I’ve taught training modules and forgot to make sure I hit the punchline. The punchline of a training module is the main point. It can be the “why” we do something. Or it can be the distilled simplified “way” to do something. For example, the punchline for the 411 is for people to be confident, competent, and committed to sharing the gospel. Or The Four Fields is a Biblical pattern for ministry and the Jesus instituted it. If you want more examples of punchlines, click on the link; PUNCHLINES

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 19) –  4th Time’s a Charm

Have you ever felt like you’ve learned something and them your second time hearing it you think to yourself, “Wow, was I even paying attention the first time?” And then around the 3rd and 4th time, you’re wondering how much more you’re missing? NPL trainings are a lot like that. About the 3rd or 4th time things begin to click. Repetition is a key element of learning. As trainers, we need to be patient and provide the “reps” that people need for the movement principles to soak in.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 20) –  Keep it Simple

Everyone wants to add something. The trick to effectiveness is not to cover every conceivable aspect of any particular subject. The trick is to boil it down to its irreducible minimum.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 21) –  It Doesn’t Have to Be Big

You don’t have to have a hundred people at your training. We want big and flashy in order to feel like we’ve been successful. Actually a living room full of people or one to two people sitting across from you at a coffee shop is more personal, manageable, and sustainable. Do you have a few people who want training? Don’t let big get in the way. Get after it!

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 22) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 23) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 24) – 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!

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 25) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 26) – 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)

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 27) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 28) – 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. 

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 29) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 30) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 31) – 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.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 32) – The Mid-Level Training

A mid-level training is completely different from the 411 and the Intensive. The latter two are come-one-come-all. The mid-level is an “invitation only” event. It’s focused on your leaders and solving the problems they are encountering. It also has elements of encouragement, refreshment, vision casting, and goal setting. Most people feel like they don’t need a mid-level because they haven’t hit a certain level of ministry. Do you have leaders? Do you have problems? If you said yes to these two questions, you NEED a mid-level training. 

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 33) – Don’t Invite Non-Doers to a Mid-Level

If you would like to discourage your leaders and undercut what they are trying to do, invite people that don’t do anything (or are just curious) to your mid-level training. Remember, the focus is on your leaders. This is a special event for them. You are going to have to say “no” to some people so you can say “yes” to your leaders.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 34) – Mid-Level Pastoral Care

One of the most important aspects of a mid-level training is the pastoral care. Your leaders may have received a lot of “Friendly Fire.” Or they could be discouraged or even worse disillusioned with what they feel God has called them to. Or they are having so much fun they are on the road to burnout and don’t even know it. As leaders, we are looking for all of these pitfalls and bringing the love and advice to help them through the tough times and press on.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 35) – Iron on Iron (IOI)

Iron on Iron is a collaborative assessment of an individual or team’s ministry. It is bathed in prayer. We ask questions about abiding in Christ, victories, multiplication, and obstacles. We give encouragement and advice. Then we set goals and pray again. After my first “IOI” I saw the pure genius in it! I wish I could have 30 years of ministry back in order to implement “IOIs” along the way. We assess what we value. IOI is the cornerstone of a mid-level training.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 36) – Keep the Training Free

We deciding in the very beginning not to charge for our training. This went against “conventional wisdom” which states “If people don’t pay something for it, it isn’t valuable.” Hmmm? That may be true but here’s another truth, “As soon as you add money to the mix, you make it that much more non-reproducing.” We decided the application was a better price tag. Training is Free. The Application will cost you your Life.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 37) – Schedule your Trainings

Sit down with a calendar. Markdown six 411 training and one Four Fields Intensive for this year. Spread them out over 12 months. “But we don’t even have people to train yet?!” And that’s why you end your planning meeting on your knees begging God to use your little team to ignite a movement. For those who are down the road a little bit, you’ll probably schedule fewer 411s and maybe two Intensives and a mid-level for your leaders (at least once a year). All of this planning is flexible but if you don’t put it on the calendar, chances are you won’t be praying like crazy and it won’t happen.

The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 38) – Know when to get out of the way

What grows under a big oak tree? Nothin’ A leader needs to know when it’s time to step aside and let the emerging leaders take the ball and run with it. You can do this too soon and too late. I’d rather have sooner than later. It’s awkward and messy but if you stay too long, your folks become paralyzed by the “Guru Mentality.” And remember, the “Gru Mentality” doesn’t multiply. And besides now you get to go to new places with new people and start over again! (I know, that only sounds good to the apostolic types 🙂 )

The Secret Sauce of Event Training – Conclusion

It’s been fun for me to reflect on the last ten years of training. This has been one prong of a two-pronged attack on lostness; Training existing believers. The other prong is the 0-1 raising up leaders from the harvest. Both are essential to the movement of the gospel. I know this is a lot (I think I wore a hole in my keyboard) and I know I didn’t cover everything. There are more “secrets” to good training out there. If you have some, please post them on the Facebook Group. Keep training!

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Author: Chuck & Deb

Chuck & Deb love Jesus!

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