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Steffen Five-Stage Strategy

Based on real-world experience among the Ifugao people in the Philippines, the Steffen Five-Stage Strategy of church planting starts with an exit plan. From there, the entire church planting strategy is mapped out in reverse. Church planters must factor their exit plan into each of the five planting stages: pre-entry, pre-evangelism, evangelism, post-evangelism, and phase-out. The Steffen Five-Stage Strategy is a comprehensive and holistic approach that is both practical and universally applicable.

Introduction to Storying

What is the genius of the narrative/story genre? What is symbol-based narrative? How do stories develop worldviews? This course will argue that narrative is a powerful and often underutilized educational tool. It explains how stories and relationships are inseparable, and how “story” itself is a metaphor for life.

Folk Religions and Animism

This course introduces the primitive and pervasive notion of animism, a worldview that underpins most folk religions. The basic tenets of animism are taught and then compared to Christian theism. The course shows the ways that animism permeates cultures and prepares church planters to address its influence at every stage of missionary work.


Covering the period bridging the first contact with the host society to the beginning days of active evangelism, the key stage of pre-evangelism involves laying groundwork for solid results to come.  The course addresses three interwoven strands--time, activity and attitude--essential for effective church planting and covers practical ways to develop healthy relationships with the host society, to maintain a constant attitude of discipleship, and to avoid paternalism.

Culture and Language

 Acquiring the culture and language of a community is crucial for establishing healthy relationships with the people within it. The Culture and Language course describes the basics of culture and language acquisition, giving insights into the relationship between culture and language as well as providing helpful resources. The module will outline the progression of culture awareness, adjustment, acquisition, analysis, and application.

Introduction to Chronological Bible Teaching

This course presents the rationale for teaching God's Word chronologically, examining the precedent for such a method in the Bible itself and providing examples of the method in action among specific people groups. The narrative format of Chronological Bible Teaching is ideal for communicating God's truth to concrete relational learners. The truths from the Old Testament prepare the way for a clear understanding of the New Testament, in particular, the Gospel of Christ. On that firm foundation, the church is in a healthy position to grow and mature.


The Discipleship course focuses on the skills missionaries need to enable indigenous believers to become leaders in their own churches and the planters of new churches. The course prepares missionaries to apply principles of discipleship in cross-cultural situations so that the indigenous church flourishes without excessive reliance on the original missionaries.

New Testament Church

This course covers the basic biblical principles used in planting New Testament-patterned churches within indigenous communities. The course helps church planters to articulate, from the Scriptures, the principles and purpose God has for the church. It also describes how the principles reach beyond church meetings into everyday life. The basics of church function introduced in this course inform the entire church planting process.

Developing Church

Now that people have come to Christ, how do church planters ensure that the new church will develop healthily, multiplying itself within its cultural context? The Developing Church course builds on New Testament Church principles and equips church planters to pass on to indigenous believers a chronological teaching program that is reproducible.

Maturing Church

The Maturing Church course addresses how to bring the developed, indigenous church to maturity, and the role church planters have once the indigenous church is capable of functioning on its own. This course traces how the roles of church planters change as the indigenous church grows, and gives practical advice on how to relate to believers and church leaders in the later stages of church planting.

Church Planter's Tool Kit

This course teaches methods that will help the developing church function without the presence of foreign missionaries. The course shows how to develop Bible-teaching aids to be used by indigenous people. The 'tools' offered in this course will be used over and over in the process of church planting.

Curriculum Development

The Curriculum Development course introduces church planters to a broad range of curricula for the host society. Producing curriculum for the indigenous church is both feasible necessary. Through curriculum design church planters are able to map out the future nourishment, growth and reproduction of the church.


Every people group has unique cultural characteristics which inform how church planters should develop and deliver a program of instruction. Church planters who teach while unaware of cultural context risk being grossly misunderstood. This course prepares church planters to handle key cultural dynamics while communicating cross-culturally. The biblical principles learned in this course will be applied throughout the entire church planting process.

External Influences

The External Influences course analyzes both the religious and secular forces which are hard at work affecting any local society. These influences operate continually as a kind of undertow against which church planters struggle to establish a flourishing New Testament church. Being aware of these influences is the first step to overcoming them. This course explains what to look for and how to respond.

Oral Communication

This course teaches how to disciple pre-literate believers to teach God's Word in the local church. Understanding the nature of orality--how people in oral societies communicate-- prepares missionaries to equip pre-literate believers to faithfully present biblical truth through oral narratives.

Introduction to Worldviews

This course discusses what worldviews are, how they develop, how they function, and how worldview assumptions can be analyzed. It then demonstrates how the Gospel both accommodates and confronts the cultural assumptions in any people group. The course discusses why it is essential to minister at a worldview level in order to have an effective, flourishing church plant. 

Worldview Matrix

The Chronological Bible Teaching and Worldviews courses are prerequisites for this course, which combines and extends the previous course material to help church planters discover how to apply God's Word to the worldview of any host society. Trainees practice recognizing which cultural assumptions are in harmony with God's point of view and which ones are not, and design curricula accordingly. This offers one of the most effective methods ever developed for teaching God's Word in field ministries around the world. 

Going Deep:

Contextualized Learning provides students a new level of understanding. More >>

Experienced trainers

Our trainers know the challenges of cross-cultural work. Read their bios. More >>

Iron sharpening iron

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