Mission Action Planning Facilitation

It is possible to do mission action planning within a church community, but an external facilitator can be invaluable.

The facilitator’s role is to plan and guide the conversation in order to help people from the worshipping community find a common heart and mind in mission.

An external facilitator also brings a sense of accountability and a connection to the wider church. They also have the right to ask ‘stupid questions’ that everyone else in the room may be embarrassed to ask. The presence of a facilitator may also change the dynamic in an established group to enable a good conversation around mission. Inviting an outsider to lead the session signals to everyone that this is a task worth investing in.    

Some hints for facilitators:

  • You may not know anyone in the group you are facilitating. Decide whether you want to take time learning names and roles, or whether you can just get on with the task.  
  • Don’t assume that everyone else knows everyone! Check this at the start to ensure no-one is feeling like an outsider.
  • Give a clear timetable and let people know about breaks and finishing times.
  • Tell people what sort of a conversation you want. Most will work hard to achieve the right tone once they know what’s expected.
  • Remember that people in the room will be anxious about failure and conflict. It may be helpful to say something about that at the outset.
  • Summing up can help everyone take responsibility for the conversation. Asking ‘do we have agreement?’ can be helpful. If the community does not agree, the facilitator can’t force it to!  
  • Asking ‘how do we feel?’ at the end of each discussion can give people a chance to move their focus away from the task and remember each other.
  • As a facilitator you may be aware of interesting approaches to mission that are unknown to the group. However, because of your role, you carry a lot of influence in the group.
  • Avoid a situation where you become the expert as well as the facilitator.

Preparing for facilitation


You may wish to ask for any previous Mission Action Planning work, which can give you some context.

You may also want to see the deanery’s Shaping for Mission vision, which will tell you the direction of the deanery, and help you see what partnerships and resources are nearby.


Consider whether  and how the session will be noted/recorded. Do you want to do that as you facilitate? Are you hoping that someone from within the group will make records? Remind the group that a record of any outcomes or plans should ideally be shared with their Archdeacon and Mission Team.

Opening Session:

Is it appropriate to start with Bible Study? Worship? Prayer? If you have time, any of these can frame the discussion in the bigger picture of God’s story. You may wish to use the Diocesan Vision Prayer:

As we follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad, we pray that the two million people in our diocese encounter a church that is confident in the gospel, knows and loves its communities, and is excited to find you, O God, already at work in the world. We pray for a church that reflects the richness and variety of those communities. We pray for a church that partners with others in seeking the common good, working for justice as a people of hope.

Mission Action Planning template: 

Familiarise yourself with the template, which can help you shape the session. It’s not mandatory – you may wish to lead the session in your own way. If so, discuss with the incumbent ahead of time.

Making Connections:

It will be helpful to make links to the diocesan priorities of Discipleship, Vocation and Evangelism, to root the discussion in theological commitment as well as organisational action. Following Shaping for Mission, a parish or fresh expression will be part of a deanery which also has a vision for how to share in mission. Encourage the incumbent or another member of the team to bring that in at an appropriate moment.

Page last updated: Thursday 28th April 2022 11:33 AM
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