Preparing The Ground

Introduction

Across the world, new Group Leaders are being prepared to use SEAN courses In many different situations. In some places, groups have been using SEAN courses for many years. Those who have already completed courses can be chosen and trained as new Group Leaders.

In other places, SEAN courses, and the TEE method are new. Someone has heard about SEAN courses, and wants to begin using them. This document is addressing such a situation.  How should a TEE Program prepare new Group Leaders where there is no previous experience of SEAN courses or the TEE method?

TEE Programs using SEAN courses are most fruitful  where there is a good partnership between the Program and the local user. Usually the local user is a church, but could be a factory owner, a school Principal, or a training college. The same principles apply.

The first stages of the partnership are especially important. They can either help the local user to make a good start, that leads to fruitful use of SEAN courses, or they can result in misunderstanding, confusion, and a disappointing use of SEAN courses.

Preparing the Ground

Before new Group Leaders are chosen for training, there is important preparation. In the same way that a farmer prepares the ground before sowing seeds, TEE Programs should prepare the ground before training new Group Leaders.

If the ground is not fertile, the farmer will need to apply fertilizer to make it richer. If the local user does not have a rich, biblical vision for every-member discipleship, ministry and growth, then the Program will use key Scriptures to commend and explain the biblical vision.

Key Scriptures to commend and explain the biblical vision:

  • Ephesians 4.11-13, and Colossians 2.6-7 build vision for the growth of all church members.
  • 1 Peter 2.9-10, 1 Corinthians 12.12-20 build vision for the ministry of all church members, and the church as a body where every member has an important function.
  • Matthew 5.13-15, and the Lord’s prayer, ‘Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’, build vision for the transformation of society
  • Mark 10.42-45, the example of Jesus, and Ephesians 4.11-12 build vision for servant leadership, where the leader helps to equip and build up the membership

If the ground is full of weeds, the farmer will clear the ground before planting the seed. If there are fears and misunderstandings about the Program or the courses, the TEE Program will clear them away before training new Group Leaders.

Fears and misunderstanding may include the fear that using SEAN courses will undermine their authority in the church, because church members will have more knowledge than them. Leaders may fear that studying SEAN courses will create divisions in their church, or that the TEE program is another denomination, or that SEAN courses are linked to one particular denomination.
Fears and misunderstandings are best dealt with by spending time together, and building a good relationship.

If the ground is hard, the farmer will take time to prepare the soil so that it is ready to receive the seed. If busy church leaders are reluctant to consider SEAN courses, because they will be demanding, the TEE program will show how SEAN courses can provide effective long-term help to fulfill their personal vision and calling. Study of God’s Word by using SEAN courses is demanding, but can yield a great harvest.

How to reap a good harvest from TEE courses

New users can learn from the experience of many churches in many situations about the factors that lead to effective and fruitful use.

1. The leadership actively supports the use of SEAN materials.
Real and active support comes from personal conviction. Personal conviction usually comes from personal participation. The leadership knows from experience that the materials are good and helpful, and that God uses them.

2. There is an official decision to use SEAN materials.
Decisions are made in many ways in churches. The important point is that the decision to use SEAN materials is not just the idea of one small group, but an official, whole-church decision.

3. New Group Leaders, especially the first Group Leader, are chosen with prayer and care.
The fruitfulness of a SEAN group usually depends in large part on the quality of the Group Leader. Everyone is watching the first group, so the choice of the first Group Leader is especially important. TEE programs can help by offering wise criteria.

4. The leadership gives continuing care and attention to Group Leaders and students.
Some plants need continuing care and attention with watering, pruning and regular application of manure. SEAN groups and Group Leaders also need continuing care and attention.   

The TEE Program can spend time with leaders discussing the results of ignoring the experience of many users across the world:

  • What is likely to happen if the leadership does not actively support the use of SEAN materials?
  • What may happen if there is no official decision to use SEAN materials?  
  • What results can you expect if Group Leaders are not chosen with care and prayer?
  • What will happen if you ignore SEAN groups and Group Leaders?  

This sort of conversation can help leadership understand that SEAN materials are a great tool to fulfill their vision, and also that they have a vital role in making SEAN groups fruitful.

Counting the cost

The TEE program should encourage the new user to count the cost of using SEAN materials effectively. This is like asking whether the soil is ready for the seed, that is, whether the church leadership are ready to play their part in making the study of SEAN groups fruitful.

If the soil is not ready, it may be wise not to plant the seed by training new Group Leaders.

One single good and fruitful church-TEE Program partnership brings more glory to God, and more long-term benefit to both the local church and the TEE program than ten partnerships which start and then fail.

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