Early in 2003 a group of young people in South Africa came together and shared their frustrations in ministry with one another. Through these discussions and previous research they came to the following conclusion: “We can wait until we are in leadership to change the way things are done or start now to influence our generation and the upcoming generation so that when we are in leadership things are already moving in a different direction.”
This group of young people had and still have the passion to see ministry training take on a new dimension. This dimension has four strategic focuses: focus, team, leadership and training.
- Focus is when the leader articulates a compelling vision for tomorrow that captures the imagination of the followers and energizes their attitudes and actions in the present.
- Team is when each player commits to being a friend both now and in the future. It means committing to the relationship even when the other person follows a path that you cannot walk.
- Leadership is a relationship in which one person seeks to influence the thoughts, behaviors, beliefs and values of another person.
- Training is not done in an institution, university, college or school. Educational development is done through mentoring/coaching. It is a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing him or herself and his or her resources. It is an intentional, exclusive, intensive, voluntary relationship between the leader and the follower.1
Focus Team Leadership Training
Today these young people are all still involved in various ministries; however, together they have started a missionary training school called Focus Team Leadership Training (FTLT).
With a vision statement “Training the Mission Leaders of Tomorrow,” they are passionate about shaping, training and equipping a person who will have (1) a passion for impacting his or her sphere of influence with godly, biblical values and (2) a passion for missions and church planting among some of the least-reached people groups of the world.
In their attempt to achieve the above, these young people desire to see generations of mission leaders trained and equipped who are prepared to lay their lives and personal dreams down for the sake of expanding God’s kingdom.
One student wrote her reflections after listening to one session entitled “The Call of the New Generation”:
“The vision is an army of young people; thousands of soldiers in God’s army. Young men and women trained as warriors in his battle and they are wild at heart—history-makers.
The army is disciplined. This new generation is obedient. Who can stop them? Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them? Whatever it takes they will give, shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide, laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer pressure is powerless.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause. They shake foundations; they allow revolutionaries to dream again; they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them. They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations and they need no passport, for they carry the ultimate passport in their hearts—the message of the new generation. They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not in some of us—it’s in everyone. So why are we stuck on the thought that we are the leaders of tomorrow? Why not the leaders of today? Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate; our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
The world is undoubtedly shaking like never before. Everywhere you look the evidence of shaking is near. God has given us a calling for our time and for the time to come. The great changes that the world is undergoing will require a believing, creative and professional generation who realize that their strength in Christ is real and that it is not just religious jargon.
Jesus often spoke of changing the world. Not in terms of military force or political intrigue, but by changing people. We are all called of God. Called to Christ, called to worship and serve him, called to walk worthy of our calling in him, called to obey the biblical creation mandate, called to share Christ with others.
The purpose of missions, however, is not to fulfil the Great Commission. Rather, it is to increase the number of people on earth who worship the one true and living God with reverence and awe, giving him the glory he deserves. It is to raise up a generation of fathering believers who inspire, worship and practically exercise the passion to serve Christ in a risky venture larger than this life.”
FTLT makes use of the Live School curriculum. The Live School is a video curriculum developed by the World Mission Centre (WMC), available on DVD. Some of the important issues addressed are:
- Character development
- The high rate of attrition
- The difficulty of adjusting to culture and ethnic customs
- The skills needed for a successful mission outreach
The length of the training program is eleven months. For the first month, the major focus is on character development and dealing with personal issues of the past. Thereafter the students are introduced to the biblical fundamental issues regarding missions: why missions, who we are in Christ, perseverance in ministry, etc. In the fifth month they are taken on a one month “Bush Phase” training where they are exposed to some of the realities they might face in a pioneering field: sleeping in tents, limited water, food preparation on an open fire, hiking, training in radio communication, navigation and even evacuation. After the bush phase there is a greater focus on the practical issues important to missions: cross-cultural communication, cultural anthropology, ethnographic process, chronological approach, etc.
For the last three months students are sent on outreach to one of the least-reached people groups of the world, situated in a least-targeted geographical area. After their outreach they go through a re-entry phase lasting one week, after which comes graduation.
FTLT firmly believes that true leaders are people of character, and that it is character that gives credibility with people. They therefore believe strongly in the “CAR” of leadership: character, accountability and responsibility.
While FTLT may be a young school, the aspiration is to see a generation that will rise up prepared to live a non-compromising lifestyle for God.
To date nearly every person that has gone through FTLT is serving in some ministry capacity. Some are mobilising their congregations to missions; some are at university mobilising their friends. Some have gone into the business world supporting missions financially. On a more full-time basis there are graduates currently serving FTLT in a leadership capacity, some in the WMC office, others in Malawi. Another graduate has started a mission school with the help of WMC in Zanzibar, training locals to reach out to their own people.
The school has a policy of continual change. The objective is to train young people who will impact their sphere of influence through a focused lifestyle, working with others in a team, expressing godly character and continuing to develop themselves and those around them into more effective leaders.
For more information, visit www.ftlt.org.