When Elam began in 1990, the training of leaders was the focus of the ministry. At that time there were less than 10 Iranian Christians from a Muslim background who had any kind of fromal training. While the nature of Elam's training programs has grown and improved over the years, the focus on training leaders remains at the heart of Elam to this day.
Two universal facts about leadership training never change: One, it is of vital importance, Two, it is not easy - all too aften training programs don't produce leaders who truly advance the kingdom. Add in the complexity of training leaders from a country that is closed to the Gospel, and you have a real challenge.
So how is Elam Ministries training leaders for the Iranian church? And what impact do trained leaders have?
More than educating the mind
Since the beginning, Elam has believed leadership training is far more than educating the mind, important as that is. Effective Christian leaders are more than people who know the Bible and theology well. They are people who truly know the Lord and are anointed; they have healthy relationships; they live livesof integrity; they closely follow God's will and not their own ambitions; and they know how to get things done.
Building healthy leaders
So Elam has always worked to ensure that its leadership training programs addressed these various areas. Then in the early 2000's, Elam began to adopt the ConneXions model for leadership training. This model, developed by S.G.A and proven in the underground church in China, maintains that five elements (five C's) must be very strong in a leader's life for him to be "healthy" and effective: Christ, Community, Character, Calling and Competencies. These five C's are 'taught' not just through traditional classroom teaching, but through a carefully designed process that involves sprirtual, relational, experiential and instructional learning.
The outcome - leaders who make a difference
Elam has used the ConneXions model in all its training programs since 2005, and this has proven to be very fruitful. Over 200 have been trained through Elam's three-month course and the vast majority are serving effectively in various ministries in the Iran region. In July 2010, the evidence of this was in abundance when 60 new believers (30 men and 30 Women), were baptised by several graduates who are now respected pastors and leaders in the Iran region.