Key Practices

obedience-god

Teach Obedience to God

Teach Obedience to God

We meet many organizations who are faithfully serving the poor without seeing the transformation that they long for. When we challenge them to teach the poor to obey the Bible’s commands to give and serve, the first response is, “But they are too poor.”

In reality, no one is too poor to obey God in serving others.** Serving can be as simple as visiting a lonely elderly person or removing litter on the street. The poor must discover ways to be obedient, because it is through walking in obedience to God that we access His blessings.

tear-walls

Teach Truth, Break Down Lies

Teach Truth, Break Down Lies

The hope we offer is not material resources; it is God’s truth. If material resources were the solution, many countries would have overcome poverty long ago. To be successful, we must change the thinking that holds people in poverty.

In everything we do, we ask ourselves, “Will this confirm or break down any lies?” For instance, planning or funding projects for the community can communicate that the poor need outsiders to help solve problems. By holding back, we reinforce the truth that God is their provider and that they should look to Him for all they need.

**To be clear, this program is targeting those who have lived years in chronic poverty. We are not referring to those who face overwhelming oppression, such as slaves or those who have just faced a natural disaster, such as a crippling famine or typhoon. In both of these cases, those with resources need to respond quickly to relieve the suffering, acting as Christ’s hands and feet.

small & simple

Keep it Small & Simple


Keep it Small and Simple

We attempt to keep every part of our program as simple as possible. By keeping it simple, it is easy to apply and reproduce.  We want as few barriers as possible for those replicating the program. Some of the areas that we have tried to simplify include:

  • Training Content. We usually only cover a few basic concepts in every training. We leave the church with only one or two things to do.  They can do more, but we try to never leave them with a list of steps that are overwhelming or beyond what is comfortable.
  • Reporting. We used to have reports for our Acts of Love, but we found that people avoided doing Acts of Love for fear of the reports.  We removed the reporting and now record testimonies on MP3 players instead. We do not want to squelch God’s leading by requiring burdensome information.
  • Words. We started using the phrase Seed Projects to describe Acts of Love; however, the word “projects” made people nervous because it implied something big.  An Act of Love was understood as something small and simple.  Of course, the churches eventually complete large projects such as building irrigation systems, but such an idea is intimidating when they first begin.
  • Materials. Our materials and newsletter can all be easily reproduced on an old photocopier.  You don’t need a color printer or printed materials to run the program.
  • Projects. There are always churches that start with plans which exceed their resources.  Inevitably, they end up doing nothing because they get stuck.  We always challenge these churches to start by doing something smaller. Typically, churches that are diligent to give what they can and use what they have quickly see God multiply their resources so they have enough to reach their dreams.
god-glorified

Allow God to be the ‘Hero’


Allow God to be the ‘Hero’

Early on, some of our Local Facilitators provided material resources to help churches with Acts of Love. These churches all struggled to progress. When the next need arose, they again asked the Local Facilitator for resources. We had inadvertently reinforced the lie that they needed outsiders to change their situation. Also, when the church did not give from what they had, they could not experience the blessing of God multiplying their efforts.

Now we carefully teach our staff to encourage churches to look to God alone for help.

change-produced

Change is Produced by What we DO

Change is Produced by What we DO

  • Life Experience – The change process starts with what people already know, believe and value.
  • Reflection – Next, people think about their experiences and compare them to an alternative.
  • Decision – At this point a person must make a decision.
  • Action – They then act on this decision. The results of their action are then added to their life experience.

Training only helps people to hear a new idea; it cannot change people. Change happens as people act on the new idea and experience a benefit. As we run the program we need to ensure that people apply what they are learning so that the process of change can begin.

messy

Recognize it Will Look Messy

Recognize it Will Look Messy

With hundreds of communities all trying to listen to God and obey Him, things get messy quickly. Often the things that the churches and communities choose to do are not at all what we would have chosen for them.

Additionally, the churches’ projects don’t have the beauty of those from well-funded programs. Their latrines may have rice sacks as walls. As long as they meet basic world health standards, that is enough! Remember that wholistic discipleship is the heart of the program, not professional community development.

adoption-curve

Be Aware of the Adoption Curve


Be Aware of the Adoption Curve

Some people are quick to try new ideas or things. Others wait to see what happens when the early adopters try. This adoption curve has several implications for TCT:

  1. Not everyone will want to be involved at first. Don’t be discouraged!
  2. Train as many people as possible at a church. If we only train one or two people, and they do not fall in the early adopter category, then the program will not stick. If you train 30 people, perhaps six will work together to do an Act of Love. By the fourth or fifth project, generally 50-70 percent of the church members are willing to participate as they see the early adopters’ results.
  3. Share the stories. A quarterly magazine or newsletter is a great way to do this. There are always some churches that go slowly. Hearing others’ stories helps late adopters get involved.