When we’re doing ministry in a more decentralized fashion, we need to help our leaders think through what they need by way of support and connections to sustain them. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, in their book The Tangible Kingdom, outline the concept of the three circles:  mission, community, and communion. Mission is the service and outreach component. Community is the network of relational connections that sustains us, and communion is our connection to God. Their thesis, in a nutshell, is that you need all three or things get out of balance.

I see this insight as particularly discerning in the context of decentralized ministry where we often don’t have standard structures to keep us moored. We need to recognize where our leaders are and what they need to sustain them. This gets particularly complicated though, as each person is different. We can’t program it just one way. We can’t say, “Each of our leaders needs one small group per week, one service project, and three set-aside times alone with God.”

The need for community, mission, and communion exist in all of our leaders, but they present differently depending on the person. What will give each person roots, balance, and connection? One person may feel a stronger draw to corporate worship than another. One person may be excited to dive into service, but shies away from community. It’s different for everyone.

So as you coach your leaders, here are some questions to ask:

  • What kind of connections do you need to not feel alone?
  • What do you need to feed your soul and develop your relationship with God?
  • What kind of service do you feel God calling you toward? How can you balance energy going out with energy coming in?

As people process these questions, you can listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit directing you toward how you can best support and shepherd each particular leader.