Church, Remember Your Training

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Posted: Aug 27, 2019 11:57 AM
Church, Remember Your Training

Source: AP Photo/Karim Kadim

For veterans, every military drill instructor, instructor, leader, and trainer you have ever worked for or served with always says, “Remember your training!” How you continuously train for situations is a good indicator of how you will react in real life. It’s not a matter of having “gone through the motions” of your training. But when you add stress to what you do, what happens? (This is a huge issue within the church, especially when you work outside of your God-given talents.)

As I have written in my book, experience is better than training; training is better than knowledge; knowledge is better than ignorance (even Hosea talks about people having a lack of knowledge, Hos 4:6, the lack of knowledge leads to a lack of prosperity). My good friend, 15-year former Navy SEAL Jimmy Graham and his Able Shepherd program is a case in point. He has pointed out in numerous training discussions that first responders write down what they intend to do in policy and procedure manuals. But their training is not truth until it is tested again and again in a “real world” experience. When it is trained and ingrained as habits, it’s no longer a plan; it’s a practice. 

Remember your training!

Graham shared stories testing various first responder “tabletop” training scenarios in “real-time.” Their exercises followed their written plans “on the front line” and under stress, but then fix the errors and holes which showed up. As a SEAL instructor, you don’t just go through the motions. You train to include lots of stress to reveal weaknesses in both their training content and in their people, then you fix both. SEALs train so they react with muscle memory rather than having to “think” about what they’re doing. Their training becomes the military’s axiom, “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.”

Also, most veterans have come to understand, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” This quote is from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the Chief of Staff of the Prussian army before World War One. This principle also has an economic and business crossover, too, “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” The principles of change and adaptability are ingrained in our current military. Listen to Andy Stumpf and Jock Willink talk about Navy SEAL training. Not only about the time it takes to become “qualified” on the SEAL Teams but also how SEAL training has evolved and improved over time.

A SEAL’s mindset is their primary source of change, but has the church become too soft?

I have been to churches which allow, even promote, coffee during sermons and people merely wander in whatever time they feel like it. It’s all friendly and warm and welcoming, but… where’s the training and discipleship? At the church I attended in my twenties, we took three years to go through the book of Ephesians, each of us taking copious notes. Why don't today’s churches train with a similar mindset and focus? It’s as if the church is following the “participation trophy” route, yet we’re told to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph 6:13) and have the “fruit of the spirit” (Gal 5:22). How can you “remember your training” when there is little to no training, including Business As Mission training? We’re talking Biblical t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g toward maturity!

READ: Christian 'Gray Heads' Need To Transfer Wisdom To Next Generation, Not Just Wealth

In today’s social media and even narcissistic craze, we’ve lost some of our moral character, which is composed of two things: strength and morality. The style of character has become more important than the substance of character. Morality is about decency, self-responsibility, generosity, and a proper set of values, not someone who is self-obsessed. Morality is dedication to your training of “everything is everyone’s job.” And training begins with character.[1] The church body needs to be just that, a healthy body called to do all things it is tasked to do by God.

First, in the church, there is little to no Business As Mission and how we’re to influence the marketplace. Secondly, there are few discussions about how we are to turn and apply our Sunday talk into a Monday walk? Many churches want to make us feel good on Sunday, but we need to translate that feel good into do good Monday through Saturday. Thirdly, the whole church needs help, from the filthy to the wealthy. The church needs a culture shift to help everyone because the church is missing out on its complete mission for God’s Kingdom.

A military mission has five steps: 1) Planning, 2) Training, 3) Operations, 4) Maintenance, and the ever-present 5) After Action Report (AAR) to assess what are the lessons learned, both good and bad, and build on what you have achieved. Or, to put it into Biblical terms, the five steps encapsulate our faith plus works in our lives. We need to train in the Great Commandment which turns into the Great Commission, but we lack the next step and turn the Great Commission into the Great Transmission. Transmitting our faith into actions, converting our Sunday talk into Monday walk in the marketplace. The marketplace is where we will have our most significant impact for the Kingdom.

But it’s not just transmitting and converting our faith into works; we need realistic Biblical marketplace training. Why? 

A few years ago in California, a police officer got killed in a shootout while trying to reload his gun. He couldn’t reload quickly enough because his hands were full of empty shells. As he’d been shooting, he’d been picking up his shells. He’d been trained at the police firing range always to pick up his shells as he shot. Why? It kept the range clean.[2]

The church seems to be training the same way, an attitude and tradition of “keep the range clean” rather than having realistic training.

When will church leaders be able to tell us, “Remember your training,” when they haven’t had any or much quality training to put into practice?

I’m not waiting; I’m training. You?

Luke 6:40 AMPC A pupil is not superior to his teacher, but everyone [when he is] completely trained (readjusted, restored, set to rights, and perfected) will be like his teacher.

[1] See The Rogue Warrior’s Strategy for Success by Richard Markinko, chapter three.

[2] See The Rogue Warrior’s Strategy for Success by Richard Markinko, page 77