BUILD’s Story

BUILD emerged in the mid-2000s as an initiative of the Education Directorate of the Church of Uganda (COU), one of the world’s largest Anglican Churches. But its story goes back further.

In the mid-1990s the COU was seeking creative ways to equip their many church leaders at the grassroots: the multitude of lay-readers, catechists and senior Christians who are the de facto pastors of the Church. These leaders are responsible for leading, teaching and caring for local churches within parishes in which a single vicar may oversee ten or more congregations. In the case of the COU and its dioceses that translates into thousands of local congregations in need of effective leadership.

In responding to these needs various approaches from different organisations were field-tested. A group gathered by the COU’s Education Directorate recognised both the strengths and the significant weaknesses in each system, and began to design and develop something for their own context.

Developing the BUILD approach

That design process began with a team gathered from across Uganda listing Scriptures, themes and issues that were relevant to their experience of local ministry. The emphasis was on creating a flexible form of training that would be thoroughly biblical, theological, practical, and local. Given the extent of the training needs this also meant developing scalable training, with built in multiplication: with the training-of-trainers as its foundation and local in-service learning groups as its focus.

Some early, simple resources were created, tested and used from around 2005, largely in local preaching workshops. At the same time outlines for a fuller programme began to develop, with a vision emerging to create ten training modules, containing a total of 150 learning units and over 300 contact hours of resources.

In 2009 the first week-long BUILD participatory curriculum development workshop was held at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Namugongo – site of the 1874 martyrdoms. An evolving group then met together every six-months for a week, with the aim of developing a draft training module at each workshop.

Each module takes a book of the Bible, the group of books it is linked to, a theological theme and a leadership issue. For example, the first module has the title, 2 Timothy and the Pastoral Epistles: Preaching the Gospel and Godly Leadership. The other modules build on that foundation and move systematically between the Old and New Testaments, dealing with related theological themes and leadership issues as they go.

Every BUILD programme is structured to have an impact: its foundation is the formal training of trainers, its focus the group based, non-formal equipping of leaders in local areas, its fruit is then seen informally in improved preaching, teaching, care and outreach. This non-formal focus means that it is viable in the Ugandan context and similar settings.

BUILD is now a fully-fledged unit of the COU’s Education Directorate with training continuing across the Church as well as further afield in the neighbouring countries, and near-neighbours.

An engine for BUILD in the region

In 2014 the central training received new impetus when the formal training-of-trainers took the form of a diploma programme. This set a pattern and created an engine for BUILD in the region.

The diploma is taught through four residential blocks over a two-year period in which trainee-trainers are exposed to the BUILD modules and taught how to use them. In between the blocks students implement their learning through the incremental development of their own local training initiatives – multiplication is therefore embedded in the diploma requirements.

The first cohort of trainers was typical, with representatives from six countries in the Great Lakes region: Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC. This model continues in Uganda and has been replicated elsewhere.

While the roots of BUILD go back, first, to the mid-2000s and, second, to the mid-1990s, it also has much deeper roots and wider spread, as described here.