Monday, July 9

Church Planting Lessons from the Marines (Part 3 of 3)

For the Marines, training is one of their highest values. They recognize that, as the training goes, so goes their performance. For the Marines, the purpose of all training is to help Marines achieve success in combat. Training is not something that is delegated. Every officer is personally responsible for the training of those under his command. In the Marines, training is continuous. To quote the Warfighting Manual, “You are either in contact, moving to contact, or training.” And again, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”

All Marines are trained in basic combat skills. This is true for every file clerk, every cook, every medic, every lawyer. Everyone in the U.S. Marine Corps is trained in basic combat skills. This has tremendous implications for us. Every business services manager, every English teacher, every short-term volunteer, everyone who is involved with the target people group should be trained in basic evangelism and discipleship and church-planting skills.

For the Marines...everyone is in training, period. From the loftiest general to the lowest enlisted man, everyone is in training. The Strategy Coordinator must be a continuous learner as well. It is a guarantee of failure if the SC ever stops learning and growing. A strategy coordinator is responsible for training those with whom he or she works, or for seeing that they get trained. Modeling and mentoring are therefore essential skills.

For the Marines, training is challenging and focuses on a central task. They don’t spend time training people for peripheral tasks or in peripheral issues...

Marines make extensive use of sea stories--that is, of actual combat stories that are instructive for communicating ethos, tactics, principles, or philosophies. In telling these stories they communicate more than facts; they communicate an attitude...Debriefing is especially important for an SC. Debriefing experiences with personnel increases the value to that person by crystallizing and cementing lessons learned and also helps to make those lessons and insights available to those who are doing the debriefing and, hopefully, to others. Debriefing is a valuable tool which should never be neglected.
In Rad Zdero's Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader we are quoted on p. 371 as saying, "The missionary task is to equip others. The job of missionaries is primarily one of praying, modeling, teaching, training, and mentoring. Ephesians 4:11-12."

Our greatest contribution as missionaries is primarily in the area of training. Yes, we are all called to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. However, if we invest the largest portion of our time in praying, modeling, teaching, training, and mentoring others to do these tasks, the making of disciples and churches planted will produce a crop, "...some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown."

I am convinced that the true role of those of us called "missionaries" is to be about the training and mobilizing of the saints. If we would understand our role as being primarily a trainer, we would hasten the day when "...the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea."

--Source, "What We Can Learn From the U.S. Marines" by Curtis Sergeant


Tim Patterson said...


Another great lesson from the Marines.

Sharing testimonies of real life experiences on the field is definitely a vital part of effective training. First comes the experience with just enough knowledge to apply... then real learning can take place through debriefing that experience.

GuyMuse said...


People's stories are what communicate a lot more effectively than didactic training. Experiencing something teaches a lot more effectively than sitting in a classroom.

Darrell said...

Guy all very helpful. I would broaden your description of who should be applying these principles. While certainly it is critical for the missionary to be so focused, don't you also think that every follower of Jesus in every place ought to do all they can to apply these principles? Which part of the Marines is exempt from following these principles? I believe one of the reasons the Kingdom is contracting in the Northern Hemisphere and expanding in the Southern Hemisphere is that we in North have abandon this kind of thinking and have developed a peace time mentality, focused on R&R, rather then going and making disciples who go and make disciples.

Rock On Brother!

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...


When Marines--and other branches of the Armed Forces--are not engaged in battle, they are either gearing up for training, in training, or coming out of training.

We can learn from that lesson. The lesson I want to draw from it is more personal than just my role as a trainer. I want to remember to be in training myself.

GuyMuse said...


You are right in saying that these principles apply to all believers. The observation that the Kingdom is expanding in the non-West is due to more of a mentality that all believers are expected to be active participants in the GC.


We are still here in Quito at AGM. It would be nice to have you guys here as well to continue the dialogue face-to-face. If we would all (including us M´s) have the mentality of either gearing for training, in training, or coming out of training we would be so much further along, wouldn´t we?