The Training

A clear, four-fold structure provides the setting for the delivery of BUILD training and the development of BUILD programmes. And within that structured setting BUILD’s locally developed curriculum provides the focus for the teaching and learning.

The structure of a BUILD programme

The unique structure is not only central to the way the programme functions, it also means that the work is scalable and can be replicated in different contexts. It is based on and connects with three different types of local educational culture: formal, non-formal and informal types of education lie behind the three main components of a BUILD programme. That is then undergirded by a fourth element, the coordination that is needed for a healthy programme.

1. The foundation

Formal training-of-trainers

The formal training-of-trainers is the foundation of any BUILD programme. Ideally this is done through a modular, block-course style diploma course, such as the Diploma in Bible, Theology and Leadership, based on the BUILD curriculum and taught in Uganda and Kenya. Through the course the formally trained-trainers are strengthened in their own theology and practice, as well as being equipped to serve in the non-formal and informal levels.

2. The focus

The non-formal training of grassroots leaders

The focus of the training is the non-formal equipping of grassroots pastors in local BUILD groups by the formally trained trainers.

3. The fruit

Informal training and discipleship

The fruit of the work is seen in more informal training and discipleship, which leads to improved preaching, care and outreach.

4. The force

Programme coordination

Every BUILD programme needs to be driven by a team of coordinators who can see the big picture, and help guide the training described above.

BUILD’s curriculum

The development of the BUILD curriculum began with a team gathered from across Uganda listing Scriptures, themes and issues that were relevant to their experience of local ministry.

Core content

This was then taken further and a decision was made to embed four main elements in the title of each training module. Those elements were, first, a key book of the Bible; second, the group of books or type of writing which book belongs with; third, a theological theme that is both linked to those books and to the local context; and, fourth, an important leadership issue that flows from those Scriptures and the local situation. The carefully sequenced learning has been built around these four elements.

For example, the first, foundational, module, has this title: 2 Timothy and the Pastoral Epistles: Preaching the Gospel and Godly Leadership. It takes a book of the Bible (2 Timothy); a group of Bible books that the book is linked to (the Pastoral Epistles); a theological theme that is central to both the book and to pastoral leadership (Module One takes ‘Preaching the Gospel’ as that theme); and a leadership issue that flows out of that book and theme (‘Godly Leadership’ is that issue for Module One, a particularly important one in the local setting).

The ten BUILD modules

Following the pattern above, the BUILD curriculum is made up of the following ten modules:

Module One

2 Timothy and the Pastoral Epistles: Preaching the Gospel and Godly Leadership.

Module Two

Genesis and the Pentateuch: Understanding God’s Story and Leading by Faith.

Module Three

Mark and the Gospels: The Servant King and Servant Leadership.

Module Four

Nehemiah and the Historical Books: Building God’s People and Strategic Leadership.

Module Five

Acts and the New Testament Story: The Church in Mission and Missional Leadership.

Module Six

Psalms and Poetry: Worshipping the King and Wholehearted Leadership.

Module Seven

Ephesians and the Epistles: God’s Plan for the Church and Local Church Leadership.

Module Eight

Proverbs and Wisdom: The Fear of the Lord and Practical Leadership.

Module Nine

Isaiah and the Prophets: The Sovereign King and Prophetic Leadership.

Module Ten

Revelation and Apocalyptic: The Victorious Christ and Leaders that Endure.

Four types of learning units

Not only do the modules and their titles have four main elements, those elements are explored and taught through the use of four types of learning unit.


First, there are ‘tools’: units that help learners to encounter God’s word in the context of God’s world. These units provide the knowledge and skills learners need for handling the Bible and give practical insights that help people to understand and apply the Bible in their own contexts.


Second, there are ‘encounter’ units in which participants encounter God’s word in God’s world. These units put the tools to work as they look at passages of Scripture. They help them to discover the meaning of those passages and to then teach them to others.


Third, there are units of ‘reflection’ for gaining wisdom. These units help participants to think for themselves about different issues, and equip them to lead others in that process. This model of theological reflection or Christian learning, which is applied to different local issues, is a centrepiece.


Finally, there are ‘action’ units, which strengthen participants as leaders in mission. These units provide practical training in a number of areas such as preaching, pastoral care and leadership that are essential for local church leaders.

These different types of learning unit provide a richness and depth to the curriculum in a range of ways. For example, they represent different learning styles and therefore not only provide variety but also stretch the learners to learn in different ways, as well as providing styles that some learners will find easier, due to their own personalities and preferences. This not only creates effective learning experiences; it also means that learners have different styles of learning and teaching modelled to them.

Curriculum structure

In terms of its modules, units and contact hours the BUILD curriculum can be described as follows:

  • The curriculum has 10 modules;
  • Each module contains 15 units;
  • Each unit is designed to take around 2 contact hours;
  • Each module, therefore, involves a minimum of 30 contact hours;
  • The entire curriculum contains around 300 contact hours of material.

A number of key decisions led to that particular shape. First, in order to put tools in the hands of Trainers and Local Facilitators to enable them to equip others a modular curriculum was considered to be important. A modular curriculum gives achievable, integrated blocks of learning, which are self-contained, but which can be added to with further modules, providing the possibility of building learning while maintaining a degree of flexibility.

Second, for each module’s learning objectives to be achieved in a manageable period of time, and to provide steady progress through the modules, it was agreed that each module should be compact enough for the face-to-face teaching component to be completed in a five-day workshop (if that mode is chosen, it is not the only workable mode by any means).

Third, for the teaching component of a module to be completed in a five-day workshop it was important to establish a realistic number of contact hours for such a workshop. A standard format for a typical workshop gave approximately 30 contact hours to work with per module. This does not mean that the curriculum can only be taught in that format, the contact time can be achieved through short residential courses, training days, evening classes, informal sessions etc, and a combination of these. But a weeklong workshop is a common way in which BUILD training is done, and it provides a good starting point for curriculum design.

Fourth, in order to make the facilitator’s task easy, each teaching unit must be of a similar length and long enough to include a range of learning activities. It was decided that a two-hour block provides a good guideline for each unit.

Fifth, to provide the 30 contact hours for the basic one-module workshop, each module needs to contain fifteen units.

Finally, in order to provide a substantial learning experience, the aim was set to produce around 300 contact hours of material, although some modules could stand alone (for example Module One can be used as a standalone introductory course).

The outcome of all these factors led to a decision to create ten modules of basic training, with fifteen units in each module, and with each unit taking around two contact hours to teach, a total of 150 units. An overview of that curriculum can be viewed here.

BUILD’s outcomes

BUILD provides excellent training for everyone involved, but the impact depends on the participants’ background, and their roles in the work.

For those without theological education BUILD provides basic and empowering training for growing and leading churches. For those with formal training BUILD helps participants apply that prior learning, and to use it to train others. A further impact is the effect on other leaders in the church, whether they lead the children and youth, or care for other groups.

BUILD also has a proven impact on local communities: participants not only feel more confident in their own ministry but also in their involvement in areas such as HIV and AIDS education, outreach programmes, and efforts at sustainable agriculture and livelihood development.