Today we start a new topic on the blog that we will intersperse with the other regular topics. ”What happens if…” is designed to help answer some of those questions for the times when things might not quite go ‘by the book’ (which, incidentally, can be quite a lot of the time!)
Questions like “What happens if…there is significant moral failure by a leader…leaders step down suddenly…you encounter strong opposition…people don’t turn up…you come up against fierce criticism from within…your MC grows too quickly….” and more! If you have any questions you would like answered along these lines then drop us a line in the comments below and we will do our best to include them.
First off then, “What happens if…MC Leaders step down?” I write this as someone who is currently co-responsible for overseeing the MCs in our church, where this has happened before and only a few weeks ago has just happened again!
Leaders of an MC may step down for various reasons – redundancy or a new job meaning a move elsewhere, illness, burnout, bereavement, or other significant circumstances. You can find yourself in a position where those have been leading an MC, and doing a great job of it, suddenly find themselves unable to lead any longer. What do you do then?
Firstly, don’t panic! There can be a tendency for both those in the community and those responsible for the MC to be fearful of this unexpected change, to feel pressure from different sides to make decisions that might fix the problem in the short-term, but actually be unwise ones. There can also be a desire to control the situation as much as possible, instead of waiting on God and holding your nerve to see what He wants to do and say. There is an opportunity here to allow God to speak and to perhaps shake things up a bit in a good way.
Assess the current position with regards to who else there is in terms of potential leadership. How far round the Leadership Square have the MC Leaders already taken anyone else (if they did it it all!)? Who else do you have who have been part of the team leading the MC? Who can you see is totally committed to the vision of the MC? You may find that you have potential leaders in the making, who perhaps might never have stepped up if not for the opportunity they are now faced with. These people might be reluctant: “I’m happy to stand in as a short-term solution”, “I’ll do it if there’s no-one else”, so it might be an idea to have a coffee with them and tell them what potential and skills you see in them. If you think they are capable of leading the MC then encourage them, offering training and coaching in whatever areas they feel they lack. Assure them that you will be close at hand to help them step up and lead the community.
It’s also worth letting them know that they are free to lead the MC in their identity and according to their giftings and skills – don’t expect them to lead as the last leaders led, they must be released and encouraged to shape the MC in their own way. As beginner MC Leaders they may not feel confident to lead as well as the previous leaders – encourage them that that’s ok and you are not looking for ‘perfect’ leaders, that their vision and reliance on God is more important than their skill.
What if there are no obvious leaders you can see and call up into leadership? Firstly, and it bears repeating, don’t panic! Then pray, seek God and listen to what He wants to say. Don’t be afraid to include the Missional Community in this process. Don’t feel that you have to get it all ‘sorted’ for them. Trust God to speak to and through the community itself for the next step. MCs often go through different phases of their life together and in between each phase there is often a time of coming together, praying and seeking the Lord for what next. It may be worth calling a ‘vision’ evening where you might invite others who are not part of the MC but whom you think might be interested to hear the vision and decide whether this is something they want to be a part of and even commit to leading.
Sometimes, this will lead to the MC finishing and people moving on to do different things with different God-given visions. At other times you may sense that God still wants the vision to continue, that this is just a time of pruning, so trust that if God has given the vision and he wants to see it fulfilled then He will provide leadership. Then stand and be amazed at what God will do!
And through it all, keep communicating with team members and those in the MC so that they feel confident that you are with them in the process and have not left them to fend for themselves.
My personal experience is that God always makes it clear about where He is leading if we stop to listen and follow His whispers.
Helen Askew lives in Deal, Kent along with her two young children and husband Ben who is training for ordination. She works for St George’s Church with responsibility for everyone under 30 & also helps to coordinate Missional Communities. They lead an MC for young adults, are working to establish youth MCs and also work with 3DM UK from time to time!