A peer group mentoring programme for church leaders
The Mathetes Trust is linked to many local churches in the UK and in Africa. These churches have leaders who all share our values. We all want our churches to be:
In line with God’s word, able to hear God correctly and to speak his Word powerfully
Full of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
Full of wholehearted disciples
Helping more and more people to find faith
These are not four distinct things – rather four ways of saying much the same thing.
In terms of their programme, we encourage our linked churches to have three priorities:
1. Main gatherings (probably on Sundays) which are life-changing experiences for all who come
2. Small groups which are growing and multiplying
3. A clear vision to disciple children as well as adults
Other things are important too, but these are the most important. If these three things are going well, then the church will usually flourish. If any one of these is missing, the church will often struggle.
If you are a church leader and you share these values, then we think you would benefit from belonging to one of our EQUIP groups.
EQUIP – what we offer
EQUIP groups meet bi-monthly over Zoom, with four to six church leaders in each group; groups are organised according to ministry context, so that members may focus on the challenges and opportunities which they share – ministry to families, multi-parish benefices, lay leadership and so on. The dates are arranged by consultation, but once they are set the members agree to give the meetings the highest possible priority. The regional leader will keep in regular touch with each member by phone, and is available (bringing a team if appropriate) to facilitate missions, prayer weekends, training seminars and other events in situ.
The main purpose of both the meetings and the regular conversations is to provide teaching, training and encouragement in the areas of ministry listed below. EQUIP groups also function as support groups, where people listen to one another, learn from one another and pray for one another.
We encourage church leaders to become effective teachers of the faith, able to teach the gathered church, able to teach groups, and through determined pastoral work able to teach individuals. The aim of this teaching is to bring each of the church members to maturity in Christ.
We encourage church leaders to be evangelists, both by the way that they live and by sharing the gospel at every opportunity. The aim is to help people to find faith and build them into the church community.
We encourage church leaders to be prayerful people who give a lot of time to prayer. A fruitful church leader is devoted to worshipping God; is able to listen to God and hear his word; is able to pray according to his will, and is used to receiving answers to prayer.
Prayer is personal, but it is also corporate. We encourage church leaders to develop the personal and corporate prayer life of the church, and discuss together how to lead prayer meetings.
We encourage church leaders to have a ministry of healing and deliverance, and through the energy and gifts that the Holy Spirit provides, become increasingly able to do the things that Jesus trained his disciples to do.
This ministry depends on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. So we talk about how to receive the Spirit, how to be filled and refilled by the Spirit, and how to discern and use the gifts of the Spirit. EQUIP group meetings are characterised by prayer, as each member ministers to the others.
Making disciples is the primary purpose of every church. So church leaders are disciple-makers, seeing every person they meet as a potential convert to Christ, every Christian as someone to be brought to maturity in Christ, and every church member as someone who possesses spiritual gifts which can be discerned and used. The four areas of ministry (teaching, evangelism, prayer, healing) are for the whole church, not just the church leader; but it is the responsibility of the leader to see that everyone in the church gets involved and contributes in line with their gifting.
6. Life on Sundays
No church can survive long term if its Sunday services are predictable and lacking in life. We encourage church leaders to be more ambitious about services, wanting them to be inspirational gatherings in which God speaks, acts and is worshipped from the heart – so that it will become natural for members of the congregation to spread the word that their services are filled with good things.
7. Small groups
It is very difficult for a church to grow either numerically or spiritually unless the majority of church members belong to a network of small groups. We share our experience of forming and growing small groups, selecting co-leaders, multiplying into two or more groups and leading life-changing meetings.
8. Ministry to families
A church with very few children cannot have a good future, and if this is the case something must be done urgently. For a church leader it has to be a priority to recruit and support good children’s workers for every age group. At EQUIP we discuss how to do this.
9. The management of change
The culture of a church is the way the church does things. Leadership is about changing the culture – sometimes revolutionising the culture. Handled badly, change can result in bitter conflicts. Done well, change can lead to unity, powerful teamwork and growth. We discuss ten principles of culture change:
1) Recognising the need for change
2) Recruiting and working with respected allies
3) Creating widespread ambition for change
4) Forming a vision and making plans to bring it about
5) Winning formal acceptance for the plans
6) Repeatedly casting the vision
7) Knowing what to stop as well as what to start
8) Encouraging the congregation with some short term successes
9) Not claiming victory too soon
10) Avoiding backwards steps
Courage is essential if we are to be effective leaders, and EQUIP aims to help us develop and maintain this courage. A church leader has to have the courage to persist in preaching the whole counsel of God, knowing that some of what we are called to say is unpalatable. Sometimes progress in our churches is blocked by particular individuals who occupy key roles in an unhelpful way. It takes courage to move them. Sometimes it’s the church program which needs to be changed. Sometimes the problem is the way buildings are used, or the buildings themselves.
11. Use of time
The work of a church leader is complex. There always seems to be too much to do, and it is hard to prioritise. At EQUIP we look at principles of time management. In particular, we discuss the issue of delegation, because if church leaders are to concentrate on what matters most, they must also be able to delegate other things. The following seven things are an important part of any healthy church, but as far as possible should not occupy the time of the church leader:
Money – raising and spending it
Social events which help the congregation cohere as a group
Communication of all kinds, including websites and notice sheets
Social action by which the church seeks the welfare of the community
Music to enable the church to offer uplifting worship
Equipment of all kinds from organs to copying equipment and screens
Buildings – maintenance and improvements
What matters most is teaching, evangelism, prayer and ministry. The activities that matter most are Sunday services, small groups and children’s ministry. This is what effective leaders spend their time on.
If a church is to flourish and grow, the management of money is crucial. We discuss the link between vision and raising money. We discuss how to choose a treasurer, how to budget, how to manage a budget, and most important of all how to grow the staff of a church.
13. Multi-parish benefices
Some of our EQUIP members have been appointed to lead three or more congregations at the same time. We believe this can be managed, but only by building a complex leadership team and deploying them appropriately. This means doing things unconventionally, and so must be handled carefully.
What do people say about EQUIP?
“A big thank you for coming over to see some of my guys on Saturday. The time, work and what you said had a lasting impact and the conversations I have had with some of the guys meant your input into them were worth while.”
“Thank you for another excellent session yesterday. We all benefited a great deal from the time and the Lord really used your ministry. Several people were obviously touched and spiritually helped.”
“Today’s training session was terrific… I enjoyed every moment of it…”
As I concluded my preparations today for preaching tomorrow, I have been particularly conscious of the stimulating teaching and discussions this week and I am very thankful indeed for all that you both shared with us on Thursday, along with the rest of the group. The practical nature of the sessions really helped me to apply some fresh thinking.
“I have been a member of Equip now for several years. You have helped me enormously to focus on the things that matter most, the things that work and don’t work and how best to go about the Christian ministry in a church. You have inspired us by your preaching and teaching. You have occasionally disturbed my comfort and comforted me when I might otherwise have been disturbed! And always with great clarity. I take away with me your approach to preparing and preaching sermons, running home groups that grow, the importance of mentoring, how to take the spiritual temperature of a church, how to run church services, how to be a healthy church that makes disciples and many other tools that have served me well – and I hope will continue to do so as I move in to retirement.”
Roger Morgan was for many years the Head of the Management Studies Department at Cambridge University. He was ordained in 1981 and in 1984 became the vicar of St Columba’s Corby. In 1990 he moved to Leicester, where for the next 18 years he served as the incumbent of Holy Trinity. From 2008 to 2016 Roger was a Missioner with ReSource. Roger was made a Canon of Leicester Cathedral in 2006.
John Benson returned to this country after 20 years in the Diocese of Singapore. During these years he served as Vicar of St George’s Church, Dean of Cambodia, Director of Training, and Vicar of Chapel of the Resurrection. John and Anita live in Chester, where they play an active part in their local church.