Sending well: training

Most major sports have preseason, mini-camps and two-a-days. But now that we are a little over two months into baseball season, no one is talking about training camp. The coaches tolerate it, the veterans hate it, but the rookies need it. The lessons they learn in training camp aren’t as much about baseball as they are about becoming a professional.

When our church planting team started Lifepoint Church in 2004, I only knew of one church planting residency program. It was located in Little Rock, Arkansas. It lasted one year, and I lived three hours away in Memphis. By the time I sensed God speaking to me about planting, the year-long residency program had already begun so I was not eligible.

But I needed training… and I knew it.

I was the dictionary definition of a rookie.

I called the residency program at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock and got connected to Bill Wellons, their program director at the time. When I called and talked to his administrative assistant, I asked what his favorite restaurant was and offered to buy him lunch. Money may not be able to buy love, but I hoped it could at least buy insight.

Bill graciously gave me an hour of his time, but when I showed up with a list of questions, he called his office, canceled his afternoon appointments and gave me four hours. I brought two pages of white, printer paper to write notes. After filling both of them, I wrote notes on the manila folder I used to carry the printer paper! He taught me more about church planting in four hours than any book or any seminar I have ever attended. I still have that manila folder in our Lifepoint archive.

As I look back on that experience, I realize I wasn’t only learning valuable information about church planting. Walking away, I couldn’t believe what I had just learned from Bill. However, something more important happened to me that day. I was being trained. Without even realizing it, Bill Wellons was teaching me how to go from a rookie to a pro.

Bill was giving me valuable training about what it means to be a multiplier. I wasn’t going to be in his residency program. I wasn’t a Fellowship Bible Church plant. I couldn’t be counted on any list he was associated with or for which he could take credit. So, why did he cancel his afternoon for a young guy, whothought he knew way more than he actually did? Look back, it’s funny how I thought I needed to impress Bill at lunch with what I knew. He knew I didn’t know very much at all. Why?

Because he knew I needed training.

Bill was more concerned about building the kingdom rather than he was about building his kingdom. So I’ll offer you, as potential planters, this one free piece of training. People want to help you. Churches want to help you. Just don’t pretend to know more than you really do. Don’t approach the Bill Wellons of the world to impress them with the books you’ve read. Get a couple of pieces of printer paper and a manila folder to take lots of notes. Approach partners in humility as a learner. If you’re trying to build your kingdom, you’re in trouble already. I know you’re a leader. I know you have a great vision. But vision’s best friend is humility. You need lots of training, and my suggestion is that you start with your heart.

Published June 28, 2016