How to…Train, Equip & Support MC Leaders
Here are a few reflections I’ve had from my time overseeing Missional Communities:
My number one reflection would be to make time to listen! How are the current MCs getting along? Which leaders are seeing breakthrough? Where are people struggling? What do they actually need? Too often, itis tempting to start talking, teaching and “pioneering” something without having taken the time to really survey the landscape in front of us, and pay attention to the real people and communities that we are there to serve!
MC leaders are some of my greatest heroes, because they are busily juggling lives that involve family, work, local community, mission and trying to lead a large group of people all at the same time! It’s so important to spend time asking questions and process with them what they think they need right now. Quite often, they already know!
Relationship and Resource
I’ve found it helpful to try and think about how to get a balance between these two.
First of all, leaders want real relationship with someone. Someone they can call up when they are not sure what to do, or have over for a cup of tea to chat through a situation that’s come up. Thinking of how to build relationship is key. An important aspect of this is balancing the time that leaders have to come to you with time that you will go to them. E.g. I would visit MC leaders in their homes at least once per term as well as invite them to an open session on a Sunday afternoon each month where they knew I would be around to chat if they wanted to talk through anything. This was optional, but just communicated open invitation.
Something else to think about within this leadership relationship is getting a balance of invitation and challenge. Where are the opportunities just to hang out and catch up and celebrate what is happening in the lives and communities of leaders, and where are the opportunities to steer people back to the vision and challenge them to keep going and stay the course. Both of these are part of a healthy relationship with community leaders.
In terms of resourcing, it’s been a useful thing for me to break this down a bit further and ask myself whether there’s a good balance of teaching, training and testimony in what we give to leaders. Below are some questions that I have often asked myself when thinking about the support and training we are giving:
Teaching – what are some great recent sermons or extracts that might be helpful for my leaders right now? Which blogs have I been reading that have inspired me recently and might encourage others? What teaching input could I bring to a training evening that would really speak in to our current season?
Training – how am I helping them to grow in the DNA of discipleship and mission with what I am sharing or the time I am spending with them? How is what I am doing/sharing reinforcing our core values? Is this kids resource I’m suggesting to people actually going to help leaders disciple kids in their community or does it just look nice?
Testimony – what stories are coming through the church that I could share with leaders? Was that testimony shared on Sunday recorded and could I email it to all the Missional Communities to listen to? Who could I ask to share a story next time we meet that would inspire everyone?
Lastly, on a practical level, thinking through how different ‘spaces’ of engagement can be used to train and support leaders is really helpful in getting this balance of relationship and resource. Below is a suggestion based on our experience here of what this could look like:
- 1-1 Coaching – getting alongside leaders once every couple of months and processing where their specific community is up to and what the key opportunities/challenges are for them to take hold of.
- Huddle – AT LEAST once per month (!) gathering MC leaders together to process key themes of leadership and what God is saying to them as disciples too.
- Leader’s evenings – every half term gathering as leaders to pray, worship, share testimony and process some core material or key teaching together.
- Leader’s weekends – gathering together every 6 months to review, get re-inspired and set goals for where God could take the MC’s in the next 6 months.
- Newsletter – sending out a monthly communication that has key dates/info for leaders, as well as a balance of useful teaching, testimony and other tips or thoughts that might be an encouragement to leaders out in communities.
Simon Ford lives in Sheffield, is married to Amy and works for 3dm Europe. He has been part of, overseen and led various young adult and workplace-focussed missional communities over the last 10 years.