ONE OF THE THINGS we consistently hear at the end of the seminars we run is: ‘We attend lots of seminars, but these are completely different. They’re relevant to our context, practical in their nature and doable.’
This leads to the question: What are we, in WOI, doing that makes our seminars so effective? I’ve had to reflect on this to understand the answer myself. Here are some of my conclusions.
Firstly, we always seek to work with a key partner on the ground. We do not do our own thing. We always partner with a key leader in the nation. We serve what is already happening. In this way, the seminar is ‘owned’ and the material can be followed up, contextualised and retaught by the partner.
Secondly, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to the seminars. We go and listen to the leaders’ needs first, then tailor the topics and speakers accordingly. We’ve found it takes at least one visit before we really get an understanding of the unique leadership needs of the culture and context.
Thirdly, the speakers we use are all practitioners. They are all active in pastoral ministry or have extensive experience. This means they know what they’re taking about and can relate to pastors because of common experiences.
Fourthly, the material is framed to be as practical as possible. We endeavour to boil the content down to the basic, biblical principle, and not irrelevant western methodology. We often have discussion sessions where the pastors / leaders discuss among themselves how the material can be applied in their context.
Fifthly, wherever possible, we draw the examples and anecdotes from things familiar to their culture and context, not just the western world. This, too, has been highly effective in communication.
Sixthly, we always get the outlines and PowerPoints translated into the local language (e.g. Arabic, French, Portuguese). This helps with communication, but also gives the leaders something to take with them as a resource.
Finally, we make time for the Holy Spirit to minister to their lives. We consistently witness great moves of the Holy Spirit as we pray for and minister to the pastors and leaders. Our goal is to build and bless.
By Bruce Hills
International Leadership Director