I spent this past weekend in Balama with my fellow American and Mozambican missionaries along with another dozen or so deacons and church leaders. Every other month we meet together to pray, plan and process what is happening in this network of churches. The missionaries and deacons (that were chosen to serve in the area of communication and collaboration for their respective church clusters) have been meeting like this since the middle of 2015.
This past meeting, we arrived at about 1pm on Friday and met until 8pm that night and then started up the next morning at 7am and finished at about 11am for everyone to go home. We end up covering a big range of topics and issues facing the churches. This weekend, for example we…
- heard a confession of sin by one of the deacons who was then given encouragement and counsel by other deacons
- looked at maps of each district with the locations of all the churches (the network has grown from around 50 churches to over 70!) and decided together how to divide up the current clusters and form new areas (once this all takes place we will go from 11 clusters to 18 or 19!)
- discussed the current state of church registration
- learned how two different areas make their own communion bread
- committed to and discussed how each church cluster (typically 3-5 village churches) would meet and worship together every month
- discussed how to handle a donation of mosquito nets
- processed through a problem with a new couple’s marriage and how it should be handled
- heard the story of ongoing problems with a rogue church leader and how one village church is handling it.
My part in the program was a presentation I’ve called: “When Having a Bad Leader is Good.” I shared what I had learned from interviews with church leaders about the rogue church leader and what we as a group have learned from watching his negative example for so long. We processed how paying attention to his negative example can make us better leaders. The group explored the difference between “worldly leaders” (who are focused on staying on top) and “servant leaders” (who welcome the help of others to lead and serve the church). Ellie’s drawings were a big help and a huge hit!
And we finished by looking at a timeline of different leadership stages or seasons in the life of the church in Cabo Delgado.
Right now we are in the second season: shared leadership between the deacons and the missionaries. Our current structure is working pretty well, but it is not how we want to be long-term. We keep pointing to the day when the churches will have their own elders. That will change the role of the missionaries and move us into a different kind of engagement. It is exciting, encouraging and sometimes a little scary to experience changes in church leadership, but it has been a blessing to have a front row seat to what God is doing all over this Province.
May God bless the church with godly leaders and keep changing and transforming how we work together for the good of His Kingdom!
Grace and Peace,