Training Oral Trainers


"The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."                            2 Timothy 2:2


In order to begin making a dent into the spiritual lostness surrounding us in the Western Hemisphere, we are going to have to change the way we disciple new believers.  The reason I say this is that when we look at the people who are members of our church organizations we find a couple of things:


  1. According to George Barna, there is statistically no difference in the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of Christians and non-Christians in North America.

  2. The average person in our churches never teaches, trains or leads another person to faith in Christ.

  3. Most people, both inside and outside the church, are oral learners, meaning that they prefer to learn by doing something other than reading a book or listening to a religious speech (call it a sermon, if you like) organized around the abstract propositions of Greek logic.


There are other observations we can make, but I want to stop there because that is enough to prove my point.  If the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of Christians are not being transformed so that they line up with clear, simple biblical teaching, and if people are not reproducing themselves spiritually, and if our discipling methods require a significant degree of literacy, we are doing something wrong. 


God is actually moving in mighty ways around the world.  There is a lot of talk about a Great Awakening happening in the Third World.  In some places church planting movements are happening.  Church planting movements, or CPM’s for short, are situations in which local believers from a common people group begin to plant churches that rapidly reproduce themselves so quickly and effectively that the result is exponential growth.  In every situation that a CPM occurs, we see the following things happen:

  • New believers find that their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors change radically to conform to biblical standards

    • The average believer gladly and effectively takes on the responsibility to spiritually reproduce themselves in the lives of others

  • They learn to spiritually feed themselves on God’s Word.  If they are literate learners, they do it by reading the Bible.  If they are oral learners, they learn the Bible stories.

  • Wherever these movements are happening, evangelism and discipleship are very focused on teaching the Bible in ways that are memorable and easily reproducible, and result in a new believer reproducing him or herself in as little as 3-4 months.


An example of the kind of thinking that produces exponential growth is found in an approach to disciple called Training for Trainers.  Training for Trainers, or T4T, is different in a number of ways from traditional discipleship.

  • T4T teaches obedience, not to a human teacher, but to the Holy Spirit, as He illuminates the Word of God to a believer.

  • Each lesson in T4T is to be mastered by the follower before he or she moves on to the next lesson. 

  • The “final exam,” if you will, that permits a follower to move on to the next level is that he or she is teaching the lesson to a new believer.

  • The believer stays with his or her discipler for about a year, and then is “let go” to work with their own networks of new believers.

  • T4T is not a model.  It is a body of principles that, when applied to a carefully thought out Bible study plan, will result in rapid and healthy multiplication.


One of the variations on the T4T philosophy that I have found effective is called “Training Oral Trainers.”


TOT or “Training Oral Trainers” is made up of three parts – Sharing Jesus, Following Jesus, and Obeying Jesus.  Each part contains several lessons.  Each lesson contains a story, a memory verse, and a way to apply the main truth of the lesson.  Below is a summary of each lesson.


TOT is designed specifically for work among oral preference learners. (although there is no reason why it can not be used among the educated and literate as well).  By using TOT you should be able to successfully share your testimony, share the gospel, follow-up new believers, start a church, disciple believers, and lead the church and all believers to initiate a church planting movement in the neighborhoods and towns that surround them and beyond.


The major components of TOT are:

1.    Sharing Jesus

2.    Following Jesus

3.    Obeying Jesus



Sharing Jesus


Sharing Jesus contains four lessons.  The first lesson gives a vision for multiplying trainers.  The second lesson will help give vision for reaching your friends and family.  The third lesson teaches how to share your testimony with these relationships.  Finally you will learn to share the gospel through using a method called Creation to Christ.


Following Jesus


These three lessons are taught immediately after a person becomes a Christian.  You will want to be prepared to teach lesson one (baptism) immediately after a person places their faith in Jesus (same day, if possible).  Each lesson is taught using a Bible story, questions, a memory verse, and an opportunity to respond in obedience.


The second lesson is on assurance of salvation.  The third lesson is on following Jesus.  This lesson concludes by asking two points of obedience.  The first is whether they are willing to obey God by studying His Word.  If they are willing a worship group will be started (a new church).  The second point of obedience is if they are willing to become a fisher of men (share the gospel).  If they are willing a training group is started.  This training group meets at a separate time from the worship group and its purpose is to begin training new believers in how to share the gospel and train others.


Obeying Jesus


The following eight areas are the most important things taught in the Bible.  All that we will learn about following Jesus and being connected to God can fit into these eight areas.  Each one is a major theme of the New Testament found by Philip Carrington and detailed in his 1940 work The Primitive Christian Catechism published by Cambridge University Press. The lessons represent eight areas that God speaks to your heart.  They also tell us how we should respond to Him.  It is hoped that after you learn each of the 8 Obeying Jesus lessons, you will be able to easily understand how each new thing you learn fits into one of the 8 lessons.  The more you learn and apply, the more fruit you will have in your life.  Staying connected to Jesus is the most important.  In staying connected to Him and applying what you learn, you will begin to produce fruit in your life.  The 8 areas are:

1.    The Gospel

2.    New Birth

3.    Faith, Hope and Love

4.    One Head, One Body

5.    Walk

6.    Put off the Old, Put on the New

7.    Submit

8.    Stand


In each lesson you will learn: 1) a Bible story; 2) a name for the lesson 3) a picture to draw to remember it; 4) a verse to memorize; 5) a specific way to obey. 

You will be expected to learn all five of these and obey them immediately.  You will train others in the same way in a few weeks, so learn them well.