TFM takes a three-tiered approach to ministry. These three areas meet the most essential needs when it comes to equipping this generation of youth for effectively facing the future. Our assessment is born out of almost two decades of ministry in low-income settings among marginalized peoples.
So I’d like to take the time in this post to briefly address TFM’s three-tiered approach.
In a traditional classroom setting, the vocation, or hard skill, tends to be the emphasis. While knowing how to do something is critical, there is more to obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment than simply possessing a skill-set.
Life skills complement work skills. Life skills are those soft skills often overlooked in the training process. These are skills that foster the job seeking process and cultivate what it means to be an efficient and valuable employee.
Life skills include knowing how to fill out a job application, attending a job interview and fulfilling one’s employment responsibilities. They extend into managing personal finances and setting realistic financial goals.
More importantly, life skills focus on character development. They emphasize a healthy work ethic. They prepare a person to interact harmoniously and effectively with others. In a word, life skills are key assets for navigating life.
There was a time when knowing how to work with one’s hands was taken for granted. Children grew up working alongside their parents, even if it was only after school or on the weekends. Dad didn’t call the plumber. He fixed the leak himself while his son stood by to hand him the right sized wrench.
Vocational skills, however, are no longer staple commodities. They are, in fact, becoming an endangered species. Increasingly, employers are desperate for people who have the hard skills necessary to perform hands-on tasks. Some will even pay to send motivated and responsible high school grads to school in order to learn the needed skills.
TFM seeks to equip youth with a foundational knowledge of a wide variety of vocational skills. This offers them a base from which to build. It places them in a position to improve their overall knowledge. Or, according to one’s aptitude, they may go on to specialize in a particular area.
Life skills and work skills are imminently practical for achieving economic stability in this life. But we must keep in mind the words of Jesus: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 18:26).
There is nothing more important than attending to one’s soul. We must make sure we as individuals are right with God. And, we must ensure that those around us hear how they can be made right with Him as well. This is why proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples are the primary goals of TFM.
Practical training in life and work skills are the vehicles through which we engage in the long-term discipleship process. Spiritual development both complements and supersedes the other two tiers. Through it we seek to communicate the Word of God and teach students how to apply the Scriptures to their lives.
For this reason, spiritual development is the most practical and certainly most crucial focus of TFM.