MYW Training The Trainer



By Ian Robinson

At MYW we are keen for you to create your own MYW leaders handbook, including the work sheets we have sent you and the sheets as you have amended them, including your own stories, notes, etc. How will you do this? Here is some help.

I have two questions and one statement.

First the statement: you MUST make MYW into something you really want to share, arising from your own experience and theology. You are not to try to be Ian Robinson.

First question: What are the distinctive values of MYW that should be preserved?

Second question: ask yourself, what are my key values that should be implemented?

It is most essential that you answer both these questions by reflecting on your experience of the MYW workshops themselves and your own experiences of sharing your faith with others. A theoretical view will only engender the same outlooks that have held us back for many decades. The wisdom of experience is required and a sincere awareness of the ‘magic’ that takes place when people interact on spiritual things (when the Great Spirit seems to operate freely).


What about a different use of words? That’s pretty easily fixed.

‘In our church we don’t say ‘x’ we say ‘xx.’’ Use your phrasing.

‘In our church we avoid that question, you know…’ OK there are several KEY questions in each exercise, use a different one or come up with one of your own.

Technically, you will have to use a programme to unpack the pdf format of the exercises and re-type it to make it your own. It can be as simple as copy and paste into a new document, then edit. Do this for your leader’s documentation as well as for participants pages if you are using them.

At a simple level, you need to find the stories that arise from your own experience and include them in each session. The session outlines usually state this explicitly. It is really easy in MY STORY, YOUR STORY, OUR STORY but gets harder in the more theologically acute area of THE STORY.So lets go there next.

Some of the whiteboards/frameworks may not work inside your head. Naming the importance of Jesus is a collaborative and creative exercise, the only problem will be people who insist on their own exclusive ‘right’ views, usually either for or against Jesus miracles/divinity. That is, the material rationalist philosophy acting as atheism, agnosticism or deism versus a variety positions accepting supernatural dimensions which may become present in space- time. MYW does not work with such exclusivists. It works for people in the broad middle ground of Christian orthodoxy, and most of its categories in feedback/whiteboards are biblical categories.

What about the FOUR QUESTIONS?

The problem of evil, the problem of hypocrisy, the problem of suffering, the problem of the cost. The frameworks used to sort out the questions have sometimes been difficult for others to pick up. It’s a matter of mind maps, personalities, personal emphases can be quite different. Well, I will explain a bit more about these in a moment, but for now, let’s say you tried to get your head around them and it just didn’t stick. use something else that works for you, and then let us all know by entering it on the whiteboards at the blogsites. If you do not into these areas at all, you will by default have reduced the task of Evangel to just MY STORY or OUR STORY and that is quite unbalanced.

Why are these questions and whiteboards the way they are? Why these boxes in that order?

· They do seem to be able to receive the input of most people. They are broad enough that everyone present can contribute to the creative whole. If you substitute, watch out for that.

· They are not really theoretical categories, but steps in action that you might be able to step through gently and respectfully in conversations with another:

The Suffering board starts with the silence and listening, but does not end there. IT sees the steps of hope and redemption unfold.

The Hypocrisy board starts with the admission that we all fail our own best intentions, it does not try to defend the church and does not avoid the wrongs we have done. Werall need to know to restore and change.

The Cost Board admits up front that discipleship is difficult but it is worth it. All good things are like that.

The Truth board sets out the four different fields of evidence that can be used in a discussion about proof or knowledge about Jesus. This is the closest one to theoretical knowledge but that is what this topic calls for – maybe a bit more reading on this will help you. This framework does not leave you just talking about your own journey but provides a frame in which you help another person to establish their own knowledge base.

If you can any of all that some other way I want to know about it. Seriously. I have used these successfully for so long that I can’t see it anymore. I need your help and feedback.

You are already aware that you can sequence the sessions any way you like. They are positioned in the order in the books because there is a gradual development implied. As you get used to them, you will develop favourites, but this must be moderated by expanding to other topics also, and finding ways to make these equally engaging.

Reminder. In the Leaders Notes, it warns the leader about saying too much or leading too little, and questions of authority which work differently in different cultures and traditions. Keep these in mind. You can preach or lecture or write your memoirs some other time, MYW is about empowerment, getting people talking and affirming their real discoveries. The ‘six questions to ask at the end of every session’ keeps bringing you back to this.

Keep in touch, help others, trust that what you are learning is really good value for others too.



Rev Dr Ian Robinson


All trainees must have been participants in four to six hours of MYW workshop themselves, and with the intent of learning for their own benefit. Ask them why they have come. If potential trainers only come to collect soemthing for the benefit of others, ask them to stay twice as long in the MYW workshop until they ‘get it’ for themselves.

Thereafter the minimum leaders’ training schedule requires three hours.

Note how in session three below it is good to have present a few people who are not preparing to be leaders. Pre-arrange this.

Session 1,

Discuss "What were the major benefits to you of being a participant in the MYW workshop?" Discuss thata personal narrauve level, observe the diversity. These can be summarised into the six factors used for evaluating each workshop session. These factors are used in the session 3 below.(30mins)

Session 2

The leader goes step by step in an overview of the manual and how each section fits together, what its particular aims are, and advises on any particular hints or corrections. (30mins)

Session 3.

The trainees are placed into groups of three. Any visitors (not there to be trained as leaders of the workshop) may also be assigned to these groups. To them it will be just like another MYW workshop session, and their presence will in fact help the group to function better.

Each small group is assigned three sessions to lead, and each trainee chooses one of them. It does not matter which one.They then take fifteen minutes preparation time for their session. (Perhaps visitors could bring them coffee now?)

Each one then takes twenty-five minutes to lead their session in their small group only. Some variations need to be adopted for this to work­

a. Whereas in the main workshop, there are two separate segments where the buzz groups talk and then feedback on to the Board, in this training session these are done simultaneously.

b. The small size of the group makes it very hard to gain the usual range of answers. The leaders will therefore have to ask more leading questions, as well as be a contributor themselves. This is quite difficult.

c. It is obviously not expected with such short preparation time that the trainees will master the process and the content, but it is surprising how much they can manage if they adhere to the six factors of evaluation, especially just follow the manual.

d. They must keep to time strictly.

e. The Trainer of leaders will circulate briefly to each small group like a "fly on the wall", and help where needed:

f. The first twenty minutes are session time, the last five minutes are self evaluation and feedback time.

The leader of that session begins to go through the six factors, one by one, and offers comment on how well they felt they did with that factor. Scoring out of ten is a handy way to do this at first, but therefater ti shound be yes/no. At each point, the others in the group will give their feedback on the same factor from their view on the receiving end. This removes the tendency to gloss.

Three trainees in each session, each taking thirty minutes, plus twenty minutes in preparation – all this should take two hours. Now 90 minutes more and you are done.

Session 4. Take time to discuss these questions

a. First question is not about leadership but about participation. What was it like this time, being a participant in these trainee sessions, compared with the last time when you were simply a participant in the workshop? Was this one of value to you as a witnessing individual?" Note the answers for the sake of the leaders who probably feel sure they didn’t do very well. How much it depends on the attitude of the particpants who want to learn!

b."Second question is about you in this leadership practise. What have you learned about leadership of the MYW workshop?" (30mins)

Session 5.

Discuss the leaders notes about the practicalities of arranging, leading, and following through on a workshop. Refer to the MYWwebsite and the benefits to self and others of reading and contributing to it. (30mins)

Session 6.

Pray for the spread of the gospel throughout the world, and commission each other to the task of authentic community engagement. The End.

MYW methods have been very good in more than 22 language-cultures that we know of.

That is because it always starts in nearly every exercise where people are at, if they will speak it.

It is essential that the leader must not talk too much or lead too little.

The processes of the workshop are not authoritarian, but empowering.

The leader is not the big expert, the participants are.

It really is good but it is not always that easy to do.

This has sometimes made a group feel some initial uncertainty. In those cultures where schooling has been authoritarian, perhaps East Asians, Singaporeans or Pacific Islanders, they may feel they must wait upon the words of the ‘teacher’. The facilitator of MYW will feel the strain of a long period of forcing themselves NOT to fill the gap with their own talk. However, once the group have become accustomed to it, they became very enthusiastic for it, and learned a lot.

Some of the specific questions in the exercises may need to be altered to suit local culture. Only two groups have told me that some of the Frameworks are unhelpful to them ( they preferred only to do “My Story”). The level of cross-cultural agreement is to me a little short of a miracle – either we have hit on something which is universally helpful or we have encountered people who are impossibly polite! I think and hope that it is because the categories are framed from biblical theology especially based on the Gospels, so even if people have differing interpretations of scripture, they can go along with the story.

IF you are uncertain, still, do a trial run with people from your culture who are bi-cultural. That is, they will grasp its original intent from my Australian English and be able to ‘translate’ ideas, values, processes and words. Then ask them to review it – ask for their adjustments in content and process. Ask questions like: What are the ways that people express this question in this culture? Who among our people do you hear these comments from? Age? Gender? Income level? Educational level? What in our culture and history has contributed to the gaps of communication we now have? With whom are we ministering well and who is not receiving us well? Are there patterns of obligation and respect in this culture which might prevent a Christian from asking another person to listen to them? How can we work with that? And so on. Please let me know what you discover. Your discoveries may very well be a great gift back into the Australian English version of MYW.

Research has shown that it is so much better if the skills and exercises in the MYW workshop can be close at hand to every group and congregation. So, we have been equipping others to lead this workshop. This one workshop will not do it all, but it makes real progress and it sets many other good things going.

It is best, in a region or in a denomination, if someone is appointed to be a catalyst for the MYW workshop and as a coordinator of leaders.


The people who can best lead this workshop are usually not acknowledged ‘evangelists’, and usually not professional counsellors (though they are not excluded), but ‘teachers’ or ‘pastors’ who have a heart for evangelism, a great desire to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ as Timothy heard from Paul. It is important that they be able to listen and learn as well as talk about faith sharing. They must have stories of their own to share and some capacity to open their heart to others. They do not have to be like Ian Robinson. They do have to be able to understand the frameworks in this workshop, and be able to think in ‘categories’ in the way they handle group responses. To do this requires a certain capacity for "thinking on your feet".

Let’s say you have been asked by a neighbouring group to lead them in MYW exercises or a Wonder Workshop. How can you go there where you do not people and do that well?

Be warned: In my experience a lot of groups say they would like that sort of help, and then do nothing about it, two people show up (the organiser and her dog) and it is all together a frustrating exercise for all concerned. The following tips may help.

When making arrangements to lead a workshop, check through these things thoroughly with the local organisers. Here I will assume it is a local church, so if it is another group, make the appropriate ‘translations’.

1. Has a decision been made, including who is the local organiser? Or is this a tentative enquiry about what might be involved? Have they seen the leaflet "How to Organise a MYW workshop", in this Leaders Manual or on the website? Are they wanting to vary anything that is suggested there? Do they have any queries?

2. Are the elders and the minister themselves coming? Who is being invited to come? How are they being invited? Are they being approached personally? Can you prepare lists for personal phone invitation? Do not rely on printed publicity. Don’t refer to MYW as another option to add to their lives. Talk about it as a step forward, something we can all gain from, and something we all need to become confident about if the church is to be who we really are into the future. Already in people’s minds before you speak there is fear of being found wanting or a dread of bible-bashing or of another churchy programme which in the real world is irrelevant. The proof will be in the pudding.

3. Maximum of 25, minimum of 8 people. Some one is going to ask whether they can only come for part of the workshop. That will be OK, though not ideal. The whole workshop is composed of a number of exercises, and anyone coming to any one of them will gain something from that one. (I would appreciate it on the day if I knew in advance and if they did not leave part way through a session.) Better to come and gain something than stay away and get nothing.

4. What equipment is needed? It is better to be seated NOT in a church sanctuary, but in a room as relaxed as possible. As facilitator I should be on the same level, not on a stage. I need either a whiteboard at least 6x4feet or a projector screening at least 6x6feet. Let me know which it is and I will bring pens and slides. The room should be comfortable with individual chairs not long pews set in a semi circle of one or more rows , not in straight lines like a bus. Can I have a helper?

5. What hours exactly do you have at your disposal at this event? If they say we have 7-9pm, you do not have two hours. Time will be lost for local catch ups, latecomers, teas, washing up, announcements, worship, You do not have to have long morning and afternoon breaks, but be informed if the local group considers that they do.

6. There is a follow up to be organised after six weeks. Can we set the tentative date within the overall church calendar and then check in with participants?

7. Ask for participants to register in advance by name, and set a manageable financial fee according to local custom/need, say $20 per person clear for three sessions (In Australia the red twenty dollar note has the pictures of two leading christians on it!), plus a cost for catering. Why involve money? Two reasons. First, a facilitator may not be paid by some other means for doing this sort of work – they are ‘worthy of their hire’ as scripture says (and believe me, they won’t get rich doing this)! I was told some years ago by a senior corporate trainer that the MYW workshop that he was enjoying was of a standard to command a fee of $2000 per person per day. It puts $20 into perspective, doesn’t it. Churches almost never pay commercial rates, so I suggest they take THEIR usual ‘visiting preacher’s fee’, given when they come to lead a one hour service, and use that as their measure. SO, if we are holding a six-hour workshop, charge six times the normal preacher’s fee. Crude but measured.

Secondly, travelling costs for the facilitator are to be borne by the congregation where the workshop is to be held. Agree on this rate, which at its most basic is roughly twice the actual fuel cost, in order to cover servicing and vehicle on-costs. There may be some travel and copying expenses, possibly accomodation. All costs will be underwritten by the congregation, who takes the responsibility of any shortfall. If there is a surplus, you may care to donate it to MYW (through the website-Paypal), and we will use it for those places where there is a shortfall. In this way we are helping each other to move forward.

8. It is good if the local group can appoint a hospitality-helper or two – to set up the room, take registrations and tidy up after breaks and/or lunch. In this way both you and the participants can just get on with the work. This person may be one who is interested to help but not ready to be a participant.

9. Feedback/evaluation sheets should be distributed at the end of the workshop (see the form in this Manual). The facilitator will read them very soon after, and within one week will report them to the local church leaders, pointing out any requests for further action. Remind them that these requests are now in their hands. Then send to MYW.

10. Say to the organiser ‘Please put this workshop as a prayer point in your church notice sheet. Can you ask your praying-people specifically to make the workshop a matter of daily prayer. Will you (coordinator) personally do the same? I too will be in prayer for you. Don’t hesitate to contact me about anything you find you are wondering about.’

11. Near to time set for the follow-up meeting, call the local coordinator to see what they are going to do next. If it has all fallen over, name it, and discuss how to go forward.

Many people find one or two of these points hard to discuss, especially the money. Some organisers find it too hard to get down to details. If so, put it in a physical letter, using these eleven points as your basis. You may find you will need to educate the local church in what is involved in something like this.

My experience is that in the course of someone’s life as it is already, God has been alive and at work. With a bit of help from me (and you) we can help them to reframe their experience, and understand that God is not outside their experience or imagination.

We have heard that contemporary post-something people are interested in ‘spirituality’. However, in my experience, while they may possibly buy a book on the topic, they probably will not front up to talk about it.

Use more concrete topics. The following list of exercises can become part of a dinner table conversation, or a conversation with parents at a church play group or with op shop volunteers, or a devotional at an event for review of programme with church-agency employees/volunteers. You see where this is leading.

For an experiential approach, use any of the Your Story sessions except Hearing You.

For a more media-mind approach, any of the Our Story sessions.

It is good to make a small start and then see where the real questions take you. Do not plan out a series beyond a beginning two or three topics if no one has said they want them.

There are some more resources to help you in advertising at the end of this module and on the website.

The Wonder Workshop

gentle exercise for the soul



What makes you wonder? If you know the answer, how often do you stop to wonder at it? Sorry but we are just fishing – we all know there is something more.

It has huge outcomes. Our huge rate of youth suicide is acknowledged as primarily a matter of hopelessness rather than homelessness. Increased terrorism closer to home has impacted our minds despite our bravest efforts. Relationships have lost so much resilience that they resemble consumer items with use-by dates.

It is good that in recent decades we have moved away from massive obedience to institutions. The spiritual searching of this generation has come up with more self awareness, which is good. But it still has not satisfied “this longing in our hearts”. We still haven’t found what we are looking for.

We have had church institutions, and church scandals, we have had church unity and church disagreements, we have had new age and ancient wisdom, but we know that we are made for something more than this.

There are signs throughout the last half century that Christianity has been re-learning its own value and contributing in new ways. Keeping the faith, they are changing the structures. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King are just some of the newsworthy new faces of Christianity on the world stage. As a result, Christianity is growing rapidly in South America, Africa, the Sub Continent, Korea and mainland China. By contrast, the church in the western nations is infected with cynicism and despondency. What have they got that we have not got?

Simply put, the spirituality of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded for history in the gospels and Acts of the New Testament, is more than a folk tale, more than a cover story, more than a poor man’s crutch. This ancient faith is the wellspring for a thirsty generation. Rather than a doorway into narrowness, it is the door to wide open horizons. Many a new Christian starts noticing the colour in the world for the first time.

The Wonder Workshop wants help people to discover this for themselves. We don’t do it by preaching. The WW helps us all to look simply over many of our common life-experiences, and feel the already-present richness of God’s gift and calling upon our lives. Church people need to do it. Non church people need to do it. We will tackle it honestly and with respect. But be warned, if it does its job, Wonder Workshop will leave more questions asked than answered. We are all on a journey.

Expressions of Interest to



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