“Powerfully Effective”—An Outsider’s Perspective on TNT Training in Central Asia

agc-logoMike Erwin, a friend of the ministry and former chairman of deacons at Anchorage Grace Church in Anchorage, Alaska, traveled with us to observe our pastoral training in an undisclosed country near Central Asia.

Here is a glimpse into his experience:

I’m so impressed by LRI’s leadership vision—to empower and support local men to evangelically share the Good News through preaching, teaching and mentoring new pastors in their home country and language. Raising up talent in-country, rather than external/traveling pastors strikes me as powerfully effective. These local pastors live their faith under challenging circumstances so unlike what we’ve considered normal in America.

This workshop provided teaching, training, and encouragement to local pastors with little or no access to seminary or classroom training in their home country. Not only did they receive in-depth Gospel training, but techniques to determine the broader context and message in scripture.

What next struck me is the commitment of local pastors attending the workshop. Several came knowing their homes, churches or families could be at risk during their absence. Many expect persecution… Yet all came with joyful hearts, engaging fully in the workshop, praising the Lord Most High, and enjoying the fellowship of Brothers.

LRI dutifully hosted this workshop on a tightly managed, well thought out budget. Expenses were minimized, nothing was extravagant, and the committed team overachieved on a shoestring budget. After attending the workshop I’m committed to financially support the LRI team and their mission.

—Mike Erwin
Former Chairman of Deacons at Anchorage Grace Church

Browse more testimonials from friends who have witnessed our work first hand.

You and your church can partner with Leadership Resources to train national pastors in expository preaching.

Putting God’s Glory on Display Together: The Story of Dave Jaspers

Leadership Resources’ ministry relies on gospel partnership, individuals, and churches who share our vision of seeing the Word of God flow powerfully from every church to every nation.

Dave Jaspers is one partner God has transformed through our relationship. Even though he has decades of preaching experience, advanced education, and is a third generation pastor, God used the Fellowship of the Word program to greatly sharpen his handling of God’s Word.

Watch Dave share his story below. Scroll down to the second video to see Dave share how our partnership to train Colombian pastors has transformed his church’s missions strategy.

“Instead of having to come up with creative ideas of how to conclude my sermon in a personal way, now I can say, ‘This is how the original audience heard and responded. And here is how it looks like for us today.”

We are grateful for our partners, Pastor Dave Jaspers and Ridgewood Baptist Church, and seeing God’s glory displayed in our partnership.

Learn more about the Fellowship of the Word program or how your church can partner with Leadership Resources to equip pastors worldwide in biblical exposition in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.


Leadership Resources and Vinegrowers: Partners in a Worldwide Movement of the Word


Colin Marshall (middle) joins Sean Martin (left) and Todd Kelly (right) at the close of the Regrowth Conference.

In September of 2015, Leadership Resources had the pleasure of hosting Colin Marshall of Vinegrowers Ministries (who cowrote the influential ministry book The Trellis and the Vine).

We’ve told you our side of the story and shared audio/video from the Regrowth Conference, and now it’s Col’s turn to share about the fantastic time we had together, both at the Regrowth Conference and on a ministry trip to Brazil. Below is an excerpt from his ministry’s latest newsletter, posted with permission.

Vinegrowers: Growing Disciples Growing the Gospel (Colin Marshall)In September I spent two very enjoyable weeks with my wife Jacquie in Chicago with the Global Ministries Staff of Leadership Resources International (LRI) on training leaders to multiply their ministry. Vinegrowers is developing a partnership with LRI.

Here’s one report that captures the heartbeat and strategy of the LRI team. It comes from David Merkh, a Pastor in Brazil who heads a movement called “Preach the Word” using the LRI training model.

Vine growing on the Amazon
“During the first week of August I led a team from our church to a river community on the Amazon which is right on the edge of an Indian reservation. It took 24 hours to get there from our home city Atibaia by plane, taxi, bus and a 5-hour boat trip.

We conducted a four-day Bible exposition workshop in the Psalms and Titus and had the graduation service to conclude our four-year cycle of training. There were 20 pastors, missionaries and lay leaders graduating, people of all backgrounds. The speaker at graduation was a 20-year old lay leader who started the course when he was 17. He has no formal (or informal, for that matter) theological training whatsoever. He preached through Acts 10 and did incredibly well! Here we were in the middle of the Amazon listening to this “kid” give a solid exposition of the passage, explaining and applying it clearly to our hearts! His name is Rodrigo. It was quite the celebration.74e702e7-c9e5-4998-bb96-62008d51c715

Rodrigo’s life is fruit of disciple-making. His pastor, Aleks is a Brazilian missionary to the Amazon who has been pouring his life into this young man (and others) and training him up as a leader in the church. The Vine is also growing in the jungles of Brazil!”

Most Pastors around the world have no formal training in teaching the Word to shepherd God’s people. We could call them “unreached Pastors”. With 40 years of experience LRI is helping to meet this need through their four-year cycle of workshops on how to do sound biblical exegesis and preaching.

LRI currently has training groups in 26 countries, with the goal of seeing such transformation from God’s word, and multiplication among church leaders that a movement of God’s Word begins. Typically they start with about 20 pastors meeting twice a year to study a book of the Bible, and after a few years those pastors are training hundreds to read and teach God’s word.

The work in Brazil began with 32 pastors, and after 5 years more than 1,200 pastors are being trained throughout the nation. And the work is still growing.

You can find out more about LRI on their website.

So why is Vinegrowers partnering with LRI?

We are both committed to inspiring a movement of the Word of God. A movement of Pastors making disciples through preaching the Word. And a movement of disciples making disciples by reading the Word with anyone who will listen. A movement of the Word from the pulpit to the pew to the homes and communities.

The Trellis and the Vine has just been translated into Portuguese and church leaders in Brazil are beginning to use it far and wide to encourage this disciple-making movement. I never imagined that our book would eventually be read in a village on the Amazon!

We’re not sure where this partnership is going but we share the same DNA and have a lot of fun together. Who knows where God will take us?

Six myths of discipleship

You can watch this short clip from one of Col Marshall’s Regrowth workshops in Chicago.

Please pray…

That God would use Vinegrowers and Leadership Resources International to equip young leaders like Rodrigo to preach the Word and build Christ’s church.

Here’s more information about what Vinegrowers does in graphical form:
Vinegrowers Church Leadership Coaching
Stay connected with Vinegrowers by joining their newsletter. Scroll to the bottom of Vinegrowers.com to subscribe.

Pastor David Smith Shares Experience with LRI in Ethiopia

Leadership Resources thrives when partnering with like-minded pastors and churches who want to see God’s Word flourish around the world through training pastors.

One such pastor is David Smith of Crete Reformed Church in Crete, IL. David recently traveled to Ethiopia with us and shares his experience in Africa and shares what Crete’s partnership with Leadership Resources has meant for their church.

DavidSmith LRI 5What has been your past involvement with Leadership Resources International?

My partnership with LRI has been on a couple of levels. I’ve known Joe Paglia [a staff member at LRI] since 8th grade, I was his youth pastor. Joe and Mark of LRI have influenced my thinking on teaching the Word of God with the heart of God and being true to the Word of God.

I also did a one-day pastor’s workshop with Craig about four years ago and I saw how we work people through a passage using the hermeneutical principles—and really appreciated it. Last year, our church became an anchor church for LRI’s work in Ethiopia. Then in the fall, I traveled to Ethiopia with Doug Dunton [LRI’s Director of Africa] and witnessed the training firsthand.

What has surprised you the most about the fruit of LRI’s work in Ethiopia?

David Smith LRI 4My first week in Ethiopia we met with the mentor trainers and got to know them. I saw their heart for ministry and love for the Word. I saw their openness to wanting to meet me and get to know me.

We were at a “Meet and Greet” on a Sunday afternoon with a bunch of pastors who had been to past trainings, and there was a guy who had gone through just Jonah (as opposed to our entire program) who took the training he had received in Jonah, went into the bush and found a guy that came to know Christ. This pastor then brought him back and spent six weeks working through the book of Jonah with him. He taught him Jonah using the hermeneutical principles, and that guy went back into the bush and planted two or three churches.

It’s a fruit producing ministry. It’s not intended to stay with just one group of pastors—it’s meant to be expanded. I remember talking with another pastor who, after the LRI trainings he goes through, goes back and takes his elders through the same training.

Another cool story was when we were checking into our hotel one night and we started talking with the porter. He asked us what we were doing in his country, and we said we were with a ministry called LRI and we train pastors in biblical exposition. The porter replied, “Oh yeah, I know LRI. My pastor took me through the LRI training!” Wow! Here’s a porter at the hotel who has gone through some of this training.

David Smith LRI

David Smith PreachingHow did the pastors you work with receive LRI’s training and hermeneutical principles? (See our Dig and Discover Hermeneutical Principle Booklet)

We went to three different places in my time in Ethiopia, and the constant response was,

“We love how you have brought us back to the Scriptures and that everything starts with the Scriptures. So often we have preached from our own wants or desires, or from our denomination’s convictions or teachings, but now we know we need to be teaching from the Word of God and seeing the heart of God in it.”

There’s always a very humble and passionate response, and worship is always the response of the Word that they just heard.

What other ways did you see transformation by God’s Word as a part of LRI training?

When I came back from Ethiopia, I noticed in my own heart a desire to make sure that my church is instilling the same training, the same principles, the same idea of teaching the Word of God with the heart of God into the teachers of our church. We have about ten people who are starting a Fellowship of the Word of teachers within our church this fall. That was definitely a transformation for us that birthed a passion for deeper Word-based discipleship within all ministries of Crete Church.

David Smith LRI 2What would you say to someone considering supporting LRI’s work or being an Anchor church?

If your church is passionate about the gospel and the Word of God multiplying, then LRI is a great ministry you can partner with.

Not only will LRI bear fruit in other parts of the world, but they will also produce fruit within your own congregation. The leaders of your church and individual congregants will see the root and benefit of being committed to the Word and understanding it properly—not only in another country—but in our own local context.

David Smith is a pastor at Crete Reformed Church in Crete, IL. He has ministered for over 27 years and is ordained in the PCA. When he isn’t with his wife and three kids, David enjoys riding his motorcycle and home improvement projects.

See David’s experience receiving training himself in the Fellowship of the Word program:

Acts 29 Pastor Shares His Experience Training Pastors in Kenya with LRI


jeff-and-jen-geneva-300x200Jeff Brewer serves as the Lead Pastor of Hope Fellowship in Lombard, IL and is part of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. Prior to planting Hope Fellowship, he served as the church plant pastor at College Church in Wheaton, IL.

We recently talked with Jeff about his recent trip with Leadership Resources to train pastors in Kenya in biblical exposition with the Training National Trainers program.

Can you briefly describe your role on the recent trip to Kenya?

IMG_2497-300x225Pastor Jeff Brewer: I went to Kenya and helped train pastors in the various hermeneutical principles LRI uses and also mentored some of the top pastors there. I was able to preach at two different churches and did some sort of teaching and interacting with Kenyan pastors everyday.

Learn more about the Dig and Discover Hermeneutical Principles that the Training National Trainers program uses.

What surprised you the most about God’s work on your recent trip?

A few years ago I traveled with Bill Mills and Don Couwenhoven to train in the Middle East. My wife and I used to live in Istanbul, Turkey, and most of the traveling I’ve done is to least-reached countries in a Muslim context. The biggest surprise to me was seeing what could be considered a “reached” but under-resourced country that has a huge need for pastoral training–even though there are many missionaries and local leaders there. I saw a poverty in their understanding of the Word that bears itself out in all of pastoral ministry. Leadership Resources is playing an important role in filling the needs of Kenyans by training pastors in the Scriptures.

The Need is Great: “This training helps us avoid heresies and focus on the Word.”

What was your experience like serving with LRI Staff? (Take it easy on Doug!)


Doug Dunton (right) with Pastor George. Read George’s amazing testimony.

Doug Dunton is so easy to travel with and fun to be around. I’ve known him for about ten years, but this was our first time traveling together. I enjoyed watching him interact and relate with local leaders. He is able to enter the African culture and earn trust, building many valuable relationships that are bearing fruit. Doug is outgoing, and pastors all over Kenya gravitate towards him.

I appreciated his emphasis during the whole week: that it’s not about Doug or LRI—it’s about training faithful men who are able to train others as well (2 Timothy 2:2). A lot of ministries claim to have that focus, but I appreciated seeing it first hand.

How did the pastors receive the hermeneutical principles LRI teaches?

IMG_2517-300x225I saw great receptivity to the principles on my earlier trip, and it was no different in Kenya. I saw transformation begin as early as the second day of training. The pastors hear about “Staying on the Line” of Scripture, and it changes their whole worldview of being a pastor. It was like Doug unlocked the door that opened up Scripture and ministry to them in a way that they both saw it clearly and yet couldn’t believe they hadn’t seen it before. After three days, the pastors were speaking a different language than the one they walked in speaking. This training will forever change the way they think about ministry.

Can you share a story or two of how God’s Word and the TNT program are bringing transformation to pastors in Kenya?

We heard over and over again from pastors there that they don’t prepare for preaching. They just roll out of bed on Sunday mornings, go to church, and start preaching. We saw that ten hours after we landed. We were in a church service, and they called on me to preach. Thankfully, I preached on something I preached here in the US a few weeks before. We heard from men all over Kenya say that preparing in the Word before preaching was new for them and that LRI’s training helps them see the importance of it.

“This training is necessary for all of the pastors I work with. How can I get this into their hands?”

At the end of the week we saw our training begin to sink in when one man, named Thomas, said, “I am seeing that studying the Word in this way is very necessary for me.” That was huge. Another man, named Justus, a bishop who leads a group of around thirty-five churches both in Kenya and internationally, was visibly moved to the point of saying, “This training is necessary for all of the pastors I work with. How can I get this into their hands?”

When the pastors debriefed at the end of the week, no one was praising LRI as a great organization or Doug as a great teacher–they were talking about the principles and what they had learned from God’s Word. They saw how essential the training was for their ministry. We don’t care about promoting LRI in East Africa, but we desperately care about training men in the Word.

What would you say to pastors considering traveling with LRI?

IMG_2422-300x225I have loved LRI and similar organizations, like Simeon Trust, for a while. After seeing God’s work through LRI first hand, I thought it was an easy “sell” talking with our elders about the impact this ministry is having, and it made me realize that I want to get behind this work even more.

I saw God’s work on my first trip, but seeing it in English made me hear more of the pastors’ stories and witness their transformation without the language barrier. I got to know the guys, and now I’m corresponding with some of them through email. I’m corresponding with one guy each week on Ephesians. He’s already taught his people the principles of TNT. It’s great to see their eagerness for the Word.

My church and I want to be involved with this as much as possible, both financially and by traveling on future trips. It is very helpful to see first hand.

What would you say to a pastor considering supporting Leadership Resources?

IMG_2513-225x300Many say that the time for western missionaries being sent overseas has come to a close and that supporting a pastor for $30 a month in India (or other such country) is more effective. There is an element truth to this, but there is a necessary role that the Western church can play in training, specifically training those pastors to be committed to the Word of God so that they do the work. I would say to a US pastor that for a relatively small amount of money, through a partnership with LRI, you can invest in training men who will train hundreds or thousands of men to preach the Word with a sustainable model.

Go and see for yourself! Participation will lead to a desire to see more men trained and your church supporting LRI’s important work. We’re committed to sending out men and women to the mission field. We are equally committed to seeing pastors around the world trained in the Word because it’s such a huge need.

Thank you Pastor Brewer for your time and service to the Kingdom!

Related Links:


Testimonial: What Does TNT Mean to Me?


Leadership Resources is passionate about equipping others to teach and preach the Word of God with the heart of God. One of the ways that this passion emanates from us is by bringing like-minded pastors on trips with us to see God’s work first-hand.

Several years ago we traveled and trained in Ethiopia with Pastor Allan Sherer of North Hills Community Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Below is Pastor Allan Sherer’s powerful story about how his experience with the Training National Trainers program has enabled him to train other leaders in his church and local area.

DSC_3725-1024x680“Four years ago my church entered into a partnership with LRI to conduct TNT training in Ethiopia. At the time, my understanding of TNT was limited.  Through Todd Kelly I had heard about their model of training, which focuses on small groups of leaders who, in turn, would train others. Todd and Doug came to Greenville and explained the essentials of TNT: careful selection, mentoring, and an unwavering focus on transformation as opposed to the simple dispensing of information – all facilitated in Biblically-immersive workshops.

Last week our four-year commitment concluded with two graduations in Ethiopia. I do not know of anything more humbling in my ministry than hearing one man after another share how his preaching and teaching had been transformed by our study of the Word together. “This is unlike any training I ever had,” was the common refrain. “Other trainings provided information, but my life was not changed. This training has completely transformed the way I think about and teach the Word of God.”

I understand their enthusiasm. Having participated in the training and come to understand the principles, I am introducing these concepts to my local church in several forms:

  • a preaching forum – a monthly meeting for young men learning to preach the Bible
  • our Leadership Development program
  • trainings in surrounding churches
  • trainings we conducted in area churches

Through these experiences we now share a common understanding and vocabulary of biblical hermeneutics that has brought continuity to the way we teach the Scriptures. We are now exploring a partnership in Colombia, South America to train a network of pastors with whom we have a connection.

Whatever the future form of our connection with LRI, the TNT principles have left a lasting transformational impact upon our church, the way we train, and the way we think about serving cross-culturally. We have learned the value of building capacity in others, in patiently developing partnerships with faithful men, and how much can be done to advance the Kingdom through the multiplication of transformational training. 

Words fail me to adequately communicate the benefits we have already seen from this partnership and the ways we hope to advance this training in the future!

Carry on LRI!  It is no overstatement to say our missions program and our entire church have been radically transformed through our relationship with you!”


Allan Sherer
Pastor of Missions and Outreach
North Hills Community Church
Greenville, South Carolina

Get Involved: Your Church Can Make A Difference
Why Our Training Is So Important: A Pastor’s Nightmare
TNT Update: Results of Our Pastoral Training In Brazil

Testimonial from the Field: A Wife’s Perspective

peglow-testimonial-300x225Recently, Kim Peglow (pictured first on the left) accompanied her husband Pastor Pat Peglow to Oaxaca, Mexico to finish the Training National Teachers program with Patricio Paredes, LRI’s Regional Director for Latin America.

Her time with LRI in Mexico supporting Sandra Paredes made such an impact on her by experiencing the transforming work of God through our TNT program, she wrote our office with this to say:

Hello Karen & Craig,

I wanted to send you an update on the trip…

First, I wanted to thank LRI on behalf of the wives and children [of those being trained]  for the special gifts you sent them. The expression on their faces was priceless when they received their gifts. It reduced me to tears of joy for them.

Both the pastors and wives wanted us to convey to you the enormous gratitude they feel in their hearts that LRI has provided the outstanding TNT training for them. It was evident that they felt loved, appreciated, supported, valued and encouraged for this training and for this special blessing of bringing their wives and children to their graduation ceremony. They expressed this many, many times.

On a personal note: I cannot find the words to convey how much I benefitted from both of your prayers for me this week…  God was abundantly gracious to me on this trip.  Pat & I and Sandra & Patricio were a perfect fit as ministry couples. We complemented each other with our gifts and personalities.  Sandra and I got along fabulously and worked together as a tag team with the women. We were able to connect heart to heart on so many different levels as ministry wives and we were able to connect on a deep level with the other pastor’s wives, as well.  It was evident through our lessons and our discussion how desperately the wives needed this time to be refreshed, rested and restored by God’s Word and by fellowship and encouragement.

One big realization I walked away with, was,  that it doesn’t matter if there is a cultural and language difference.  No matter where God has placed us, we all have the same needs as believers and as fellow disciples and minister’s of God’s Word.

I came home spiritually & emotionally recharged. I also came home with some new friendships of Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ.  :)

Every time Pat comes home from an LRI training session, he is pumped. Thank you for the opportunity to go with Pat and experience God’s magnificent work in Mexico.

This was also a wonderful trip for Chelsea to come on and see, firsthand what her father does with LRI and to meet these wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. She thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and vice versa. At least she speaks some Spanish. LOL  I believe God also met her in a special way too!!!

With an extremely grateful heart,



Below is a testimonial from the wife of one of the men in Brazil who went through the TNT Program. Listen as Camilla describes how God used TNT training from Leadership Resources to transform her husband’s heart and build his confidence in ministry:

    Never miss a post!

    * indicates required

    Choose a Frequency