Training and Supporting Missional Leaders

“How do you support your leaders?”


This is one of the most common questions people ask, whether they are leading a missional community, ministry or whole church. Today, here are some great thoughts from Helen on how to do this with leaders of or in a MC.


It is crucial that leaders, who will effectively be leading small churches in their spare time, have enough support, training and encouragement to continue on with their vision and to see it bear much fruit. Without enough support there is a chance that they may find themselves over-burdened and under-equipped which could lead to burnout and failure of that community.

So what might be the key things to bear in mind as you think about supporting and developing your missional leaders?

1. Do it!

People will see what you value most by where you spend the majority of your time. If you really value growing a missional movement and supporting your leaders then I would suggest that they (and the rest of the church) need to see that worked out practically, as well as in just what you say. Look at your diary. Are MC leaders prioritised? If not, why not? Do they feel valued by how much of your time is spent on them and in visiting their communities, or do they see you focusing most of your time on central resources/events etc? Change your diary if necessary and put other people in place to do things you’ve been doing, or find someone whose job it is to take responsibility for coaching and supporting your MC Leaders. I know this is not always an easy one to change but I think it’s vital for the growth and success of MCs in a church!

2. Apprenticeship

As much as possible take time to apprentice or coach your leaders in missional leadership. There are many ways to do this, not all of them requiring lots of time from you or them.

One of the best ways for a leader to be apprenticed is by them being raised up through a community by another leader using the Lifeshapes Leadership Square (going through a process of I do – you watch, I do – you help, You do – I help, You do – I watch.) Obviously when you are just starting MCs in your church this isn’t possible, so then make sure that you spend time sharing stories of success and failure, your wisdom and your experiences of how you’ve led people before. Always give them the challenge to try and work things out for themselves with their team and the Holy Spirit – don’t be tempted to ‘rescue’ them every time they have a problem or to tell them what to do. Keep them accountable for their decisions and actions (remember low-control, high accountability).

3. Training

Operate under the principle of ‘just enough information, just in time.’ In other words, don’t ‘front-load’ your leaders with lots of information or training in areas they haven’t yet experienced. The likelihood is they won’t remember much of it. Give them the specific training they need as and when their experience demands it. Do balance this however with regular general leadership training/development input so that your leaders feel they are being invested into as they lead.

4. Value a range of leadership types

Don’t assume that everyone ought to lead like you! Remember each leader is different, has different skills, gifts and passions and should be released to lead in their own identity rather than feeling they need to be like someone they’re not. This might mean you need to help them discover some of what this is.

5. The most important thing is not the community they lead

Don’t let your desire to grow healthy and fruitful communities within your church get in the way of growing healthy and fruitful disciples in your church. The most important things your leaders should invest in is their relationships with the Lord and with their family. Make sure they are putting regular time in their diary to spend in rest and re-creation. This might mean they can’t get to everything you ask them to come to…..this is ok!!! You’re much more likely to get healthy communities and people willing to step up to leadership if they see leaders who have healthy relationships and a healthy rhythm to their life.

6. Encouragement is vital

Nobody can get too much encouragement in their leadership. It usually comes rarely from the people we lead so make sure you give them as much as you can! Without it it’s easy for a leader to become discouraged and disillusioned, especially when times are hard, so make sure you give them praise for specific things you’ve seen in them, and cheer them on when things get tricky.

I hope these few thoughts help you Church Leaders as you work out how best to train and support your Missional Leaders!