Why would TLI start a domestic ministry for diaspora pastors?
Over the years, TLI has focused on training national church leaders overseas. Sometimes that training has also included immigrants and refugees in places like Greece and Uganda. We also have multiple sites in Ethiopia, yet there are many Ethiopian churches within a few miles of our office in Minneapolis. As we've been working to serve leaders around the world, we've come to realize there are also opportunities among the underserved diaspora pastors next door.
How did Diaspora Training get started?
In 2017, TLI asked Eduardo Mendes to help launch a ministry to strengthen immigrant leaders in the U.S. Eduardo had previously started a similar domestic ministry in Brazil, called Preach the Word, which now conducts preaching workshops throughout Brazil and in other Portuguese-speaking countries, with over 1000 participants.
What makes your preaching workshops different from others?
We intentionally focus our program and curriculum to serve expat pastors. Our facilitators have coaching in leading a multicultural workshop. We also place a high priority on building cross-cultural relationships. Like TLI's training overseas, we work with a cohort of participants that spend 2-3 years together. Over that time, our curriculum is designed to provide participants with competency and confidence in preaching from every genre of Scripture.
Why do you prioritize relationships?
Since we're focused on ministering to leaders from other cultural backgrounds, we want a program that seeks to understand them and value what they value: deep relationships. We also recognize that diaspora pastors are often disconnected from other churches (even within their same denomination). This affects all of us, because we can learn from each other and should be working together for the sake of the gospel.
What do you do in your workshops?
Our workshops are broken down into two types of lessons: equipping and exploring. In the exploring sessions, participants work together using basic hermeneutical principles to observe, analyze, and synthesize the intended message of a selected biblical text. In the equipping sessions, facilitators strengthen the participants in a specific skill or area of knowledge related to the book they are studying.
Can anyone participate in a workshop?
While we focus on serving diaspora pastors, we welcome other participants in our workshops. One of our primary goals is seeing diverse relationships developed among gospel-preaching churches in a given community. Since this is a preaching workshop, it is designed for church leaders with a preaching ministry. Participants join a cohort by invitation and must fill out an application.
How can my church get involved?
Churches can become involved in a variety of ways. Since we emphasize local church-based training, we are looking for partner churches to host workshops in cities across the U.S. Sometimes churches band together to host and facilitate a workshop sequence. Churches that are unable to host training also have the opportunity to sponsor a site. Churches interested in becoming a partner go through a site assessment process with TLI's regional staff.
What does TLI contribute to the project?
TLI's regional staff come alongside the local church to coordinate and implement the program. We supply partners with a full preaching workshop curricula and transcultural guidance for an effective ministry to diaspora leaders. Those who volunteer to facilitate our workshops must go through an initial certification process, including a two-day facilitator training in Minneapolis. TLI staff also help by co-facilitating the preaching workshops.
What does a site partner do?
We value partnerships with ownership. Churches that become site partners host the workshops, providing facilities and food for the participants. Site partners also supply one person to be a site coordinator, assisting TLI staff with planning and delivery of the training. Finally, partner churches are encouraged to provide at least one facilitator for the project (typically the site coordinator).
How much does it cost?
Our goal is to keep costs at a minimum, especially for diaspora pastors. In some cases, participants may be asked for a small fee to help offset admin costs. Otherwise, site partners and sponsors cover all program expenses, the largest of which are travel costs associated with becoming a certified facilitator with Diaspora Training. All facilitators in our program must attend a two-day training in Minneapolis prior to leading a workshop.
Can I become a facilitator with Diaspora Training?
Most of our workshop facilitators come from our church partners and TLI staff. However, we do accept applications from others. Some sites have two or three facilitators who share the teaching responsibilities. Priority is given to those with at least seven years of preaching experience, an MDiv, and some cross-cultural experience.
What happens in between workshops?
We space out our workshops every 2-4 months to provide participants the opportunity to practice their learning as well as prepare for the next workshop. During this time, facilitators also encourage group gatherings and one-on-one meetings to deepen the relationships among participants. We desire for fellowship, growth, encouragement, and prayer to reach beyond the classroom, ultimately moving toward collaboration for ministry in our communities.
What happens once you complete the program?
Those who attend and participate in a minimum of 75% of the workshops are provided with a certificate from TLI's Diaspora Training. In some cases, completion of the program may also provide graduates with credits at a partner institution. This program of continuing education is currently being developed. Our goal is to stay connected with our participants even after the workshops are complete.
If your church is interested in becoming a partner, if you'd like more information about becoming a facilitator or participant, or if you have any other questions, please contact us: DT@TrainingLeaders.org.