Facilitating Urban Leadership Training

TUMI’s stated purpose is to equip leaders for the urban church, especially among the poor, to advance the Kingdom of God. As the adage goes, “That’s easier said than done.” With dozens of satellites and thousands of students, exactly how do we do it? After all, we don’t have “boots-on-the-ground” staff presence in our 212 sites in 15 countries, including 63 prisons and jails (as of August 2015), nor do we have any plans to do so. We will not deploy TUMI staff throughout our ever-growing network to do hands-on, face-to-face mentoring on the field.

How then do we facilitate the training of urban leaders, both domestically and abroad? The answer is simple: we do it by collaborating with partners in mission. The partnerships that we establish and maintain with like-minded churches, denominations, and other ministries make our facilitation efforts possible. Specifically, our curricula and programs outfit partners to equip their own leaders to do effective urban ministry.

At first glance, one might miss the radical nature of this approach. In our view, all effective leadership training is done locally, in the context of the actual lives and ministries of these emerging servants, done best by those who know them well. Christ’s example demonstrates that curricula, books, and resources don’t forge ordinary men and women into dynamic Christian leaders – they must be personally equipped in the field (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:40). Partnership is a time-tested principle in Kingdom advancement, demonstrated both in Christ and the Twelve, and the continuing efforts of the apostolic company illustrated in the book of Acts (Acts 13:1-3). The Holy Spirit raises up leaders in their own context to serve as his very own ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). Our role is to enable them to be effective, not to pretend that we know how to best contextualize training in their environment. Like the old Home Depot motto, we exclaim to our ministry partners, “You can do it; we can help.”

This model of training works because it carefully distinguishes the roles of the various players in the leader development game. For instance, the Lord provides the God-called men and women who make themselves available for ministry training. Our partners supply the oversight, authority, venue, opportunity, and the vision to make it happen, along with the energy and the effort to host leader development training in their own context. TUMI, then, supplies the consultation, programming, curricula, resources, and experience to help these partners establish their own, contextualized, strategic leadership training that ensures effective urban ministry in their context. The key to equipping leaders, then, is for each of the partners to fulfill their role–the Lord, the partners, the leaders, and yes, TUMI.

Our role, therefore, is supportive and secondary, but very important. Although we come alongside others to develop leaders, we function like a midwife, providing wise experience and support throughout the entire leadership-birthing theater and process. We do not personally mentor, train, or counsel the leaders in our network, but we do professionally resource those who do. We are dedicated to create the curricula, resources, and consultations that will equip leaders and empower church planting movements among the poor worldwide.

One of World Impact’s key focus areas is Developing Missional Partnerships, which involves forming Kingdom-minded relationships that collaboratively love, serve, and engage under-resourced communities. TUMI’s extraordinary network of innovative leader developers is the key to raising up a new generation of God-called leaders to reach the world’s urban poor. TUMI’s role in this effort is clear: “They can do it; we can help.”

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Rev. Dr. Don Davis is a Senior Vice President of World Impact, and the Executive Director of The Urban Ministry Institute.

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