Teaching best-practices for transformation on a broad scale presents a unique challenge for the church.
At the root of the problem is the people who must learn about transformation to put it into action are adults with busy lives and full schedules. They either are pastors of local churches and full to the brim with pastoral duties, sermons to prepare and flocks to tend; or, they are congregants of churches with jobs, kids, and super-busy lifestyles.
Traditional adult education and training in churches is usually embodied in short-form meetings or, at best, day-long workshops. Simply put, these traditional methodologies of providing education don't provide enough time to tackle a subject like congregational transformation. You just can't learn enough in a single day to take a big enough step in transformation without stringing multiple sessions together. The problem is that the more sessions there are and the more frequent they become, the more difficult it becomes for people to fit the necessary learning and training into their busy schedules. Thus, too few participate.
This trend is exactly opposite of what is needed for transformation to take root. The pace of transformation goes best and is most successful when more people participate, not less!
The problem isn't just the amount of learning that needs to be covered; it is the logistics of the traditional training meetings:
These logistics can consume more time than the learning/training sessions themselves. Also, the back-and-forth travel consumes expensive fuel for each student, which means traditional training meetings are not green.
Logistics gets in the way of learning.
If you are a full-time student in a school, these issues are easily overlooked because they are simply part of "going to school." You go to the campus; you spend lots of time there and go to multiple classes, so the travel is much more efficient. Also, students go to class because they have made a long-term commitment to their education.
Getting adults to make time- and logistics-intensive commitments are much different, if you are an adult, with other responsibilities and obligations. Getting commitments to participate in learning sessions has to be made more attractive and easily fit into their other commitments to work, family and other responsibilities. There is a much different set of "givens."
When TransformingTheChurch.org approached the challenge of providing learning/training/consulting/coaching, we looked at the whole process and how we could make it more efficient and practical for providing adult education to real-world congregations.
We elected to use online learning technologies for providing this type of education. Rather than students coming to class, we take the class to the student; wherever they are!
Using the broadband Internet, which is now almost ubiquitous in U.S. households, we can provide a media-rich interactive learning environment for conducting classes. Using our state-of-the-art cloud-based learning platform, students with nothing more than a web browser and a broadband Internet connection can participate in a robust virtual classroom from their homes, offices or on the road. Rich interaction with instructors and classmates is retained and enhanced.
Also, class members can work together in discussion and dialog. Students can also view video-on-demand at their own pace, when convenient, and post questions and comments to forums. The class can also meet together to discuss a video that everyone has previously watched.
These methods make the valuable time together, online at the same time, much more efficient.
Consultants and coaches can meet the transformation team online as well. By integrating consultants and coaches into the virtual classroom, they can, without travel, join into the process more efficiently and more often, which accelerates the whole process. Also, transformation teams can set up Private Meeting Rooms where they can meet with their consultants and coaches in the privacy of a secure online virtual meeting space.