SIM Malawi helps develop lay-leadership training programme



 Lay-Leadership Training Task Force at work

In common with many churches, especially in the West, the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) is suffering from a lack of trained pastors. Currently the AEC has about 18- congregations across Malawi, but only about 50 trained pastors.

So to help overcome this deficiency, SIM Malawi has joined forces with its principal partner to come up with an innovative lay-leadership training scheme.

At the 2010 Annual Church Fellowship Mission Meeting – which includes members of the AEC Executive Committee and SIM Malawi Field Council – and following research done by SIM Malawi Country Director Hans-Jörg Richter, it was decided that a Task Force should be formed, made up of AEC and SIM Malawi personnel, to take forward the idea of developing lay-leadership training.

Three SIM Malawi missionaries – Steven Wheatley, Ruth Guinness and Megumi Fazakerley – were appointed to work with pastors from AEC to set up the Lay-Leadership Training Task Force to look at the problems and develop solutions.

“We realised it was important to work alongside the AEC because we felt they needed to have ownership of the training,” said Steven Wheatley who has many years; experience in lay-leadership training.

“The three of us were paired off with AEC pastors and we divided up the work so that each pair would be responsible for a different aspect of the programme. In all 12 areas were identified and study material for each was developed. Also, the importance of working in this way meant that we could tailor the training more exactly to the needs of the AEC.”

The development of the training materials was completed by the end of November 2012 and four AEC churches were identified to run a pilot programme to see how the materials worked in practice.

“The four churches we selected – Chilomoni and Chirimba in Blantyre, Nsanje to the south of the country and Mwadzama on the shores of Lake Malawi – gave us a mix of rural and urban areas and also different sizes of churches,” said Megumi Fazakerley.

“With this kind of spread we hoped we would be able to see how the material worked and then evaluate how things had gone at the end of the pilot programme.”

Steven Wheatley (right) delivering a training event

The Christian Education Department of the AEC is keen to see more churches involved, even before the pilot is finished and evaluated. They want to see more leaders trained and to start rolling the programme out.

So this new project is still in its infancy, but the desire is there to make it succeed, to see it become a requirement for any potential lay-leader, and to improve the depth of Biblical understanding in AEC congregations.

“Our long-term prayer is that the training will result in good biblical teaching in the AEC, which is very much need,” said Ruth Guinness.

“We also hope that people will not just see it as a ‘box to tick’ and say ‘we have done that’, and move on. We hope that they will see the benefit of the training and that they will be better equipped tpo serve their congregations.”


Lay Leadership Training is also supported by project 96558 ‘Pastors’ Book Set Malawi’