A common question we hear when working with pastors or leaders overseeing multiple Missional Communities is how to continue training and discipling these leaders in the midst of them leading their own MC's.
To be honest, there isn't "one best way" to do this. Each church, city and mission context will do it differently. For instance, I know that Alex Absalom does it differently than this, and that's perfectly fine! But I do think being able to see the way someone is doing it can help as a starting place for crafting our own process.
Here are two principles I think are in play:
- Every leader needs to lead an accountable life.
- Our leaders should get the very best from us and not just the scraps.
As such, this is the process I've used for a while and will probably use into the future in some way, shape or form. Here's a visual of the annual investment process and then I'll briefly explain each piece of it.
JUNE VISION NIGHT
This kicks off the beginning of a new Missional Community cycle. We talk about the vision for the upcoming year for our Missional Communities (which officially kicks off after Labor Day weekend in September) and celebrate what happened in the previous year. We also talk details and nuts-and-bolts for investment for the coming year, along with giving them a Leader Guide for that year (which basically gives them a ton of freedom and a very loose framework).
Our Missional Communities stop all 'formal' gathering in the summers and only do more informal/organic time (beach, baseball games, pool, cook outs, movie nights, etc). Just fun relational stuff. But three times a month, the leaders are gathered into a Missional Community that's just for the summer. We will do UP, IN and OUT and disciple them just like a Missional Community. But they are only participants. We call this 'immersion', based on the learning theory that immersion is crucial to learning to do something as it's both caught and taught. In the summer, leaders learn by participating and abiding and being poured into by elders, staff, etc and not worry about leading for a season of time.
AUGUST LEARNING COMMUNITY
On a Friday night and Saturday, we gather Missional Community leaders and talk more about the vision we introduced in June, but with more teaching and then practical handles. We train, discuss, inspire, envision, pray, and by the end of the time, each MC has a simple, practical plan for their upcoming year.
NOVEMBER LEADER RETREAT
We take all of our Missional Community leaders away for 2.5 days (including spouses) and we do a time of teaching, processing, prayer, investment and fun that's all about their personal and family discipleship and has nothing to do with them leading a Missional Community. It's not a retreat to train or talk about leadership. It's a spiritual retreat that happens to have leaders on it. This is one of the very best things we do all year in our church.
MARCH BRUNCH CHECK-IN
We gather all of our MC leaders together for brunch on a Saturday morning for two hours. We share stories, spend some time praying for one another, do some light content and coaching, practical Question and Answer and review what our goals and plans for the year were.
MONTHLY INVESTMENT GROUPS
We have 3-4 Missional Communities' leaders get together once a month (often a husband and a wife lead one MC) for a total of 6-8 people. Staff, elders, deacons or MC coaches lead these groups and we use them to invest and disciple our MC leaders. These happen in our homes, include meals and by the end of the evening, each person will be able to articulate what God is saying to them and what they are going to do about it in the next month. Then, at the next group, we'll start with how those things went. These groups are about 2/3rds personal discipleship and 1/3rd MC leader coaching. In addition to these more formal monthly times together, the discipling leaders will regularly be checking in with their MC leaders and spending organic time with them as well.