National launch of Lay-Leadership Training



AEC Pastors in a training session

In the first issue of Malawi Amoto we reported how SIM Malawi had been involved with the development of a Lay-Leadership Training programme with its partner, Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). At that time pilot schemes were in operation to test the material but now a church-wide programme has been launched.

Each year the AEC holds its Annual Church Conference (ACC), and this year’s event was held in the south of country. Seeing this as a good opportunity, two additional training events were held for AEC Pastors and Evangelists; one on Church Planting and one on Lay-Leadership Training.

In all, 35 Pastors and Evangelists took part in an intensive three-day course where they were trained and will now take what they have learned back to their churches and train their lay-leaders.  

The general feeling coming out of the earlier pilot is that the material has been well received and is proving useful to the local churches. One of the pastors who has completed the pilot programe, Pastor Elard Tsirizani, from Mwadzama in the Lakeshore region said: “It really helps the work of the Lord to move forward. It also helps the leaders (elders, deacons and deaconesses) to have knowledge about their responsibilities. I can see that people have changed a lot and they are now faithful in their ministry.”

Pastor Tsirizani also picked out some specific areas of the training which he found helpful: “Two books especially are very helpful – the one on salvation and the one on hermeneutics.  The leaders did not know the full story of salvation – but now they have been helped a lot.”

Evangelist Boniface Millanzie (left) and Pastor Elard Tsirizani

But the training has gone ahead despite challenges being faced as SIM Malawi’s Ruth Guinness, one of the Task Force which developed the programme explained:  “Time is one of the big challenges which people face when it comes to the training. In the urban churches there is time pressure because of being on committees. In the rural areas there are the demands of farming and, also, evening meetings are not possible because it is dark by 6pm and women, especially, do not go out at night on their own.”

So what happens now that this new cadre of pastors and evangelists has been trained? SIM Malawi’s Steven Wheatley, also a member of the Task Force, takes up the story: “The hope now is that the pastors who were trained in this event will go back to their home areas and train their lay-leaders. Most, if not all, of the pastors have more than one church under their charge and so an individual pastor, depending on the number of churches he has, could have as many as 100 or more lay-leaders to train! So this is going to be an on-going process for a while to come, and we shall be monitoring the situation to ensure that the pastors follow through with the training.”

Evangelist Boniface Millanzie, at Muona on the East Bank of the Lower Shire, graduated from the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi this year. He was part of the training scheme just held and he welcomes the course and its aims.

“It is a good development and it is definitely something that is really exciting. The church will benefit in at least three ways: the ones who are taught will have enough knowledge in each of the areas covered by the teaching, their spiritual lives will benefit and grow, and the work of the pastor will become easier.  Now a pastor has many churches so he will be helped when the elders can preach with knowledge,” he said.