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Focal leadership

Where did last year's leftover palm crosses go? Who knows the person who runs the local magazine? Who is it that naturally gathers others together to get a job done? 

There is always someone in church life who holds things together, knows who to contact and notices when Dot (who is always second in the queue for coffee) hasn't been at church and may need a visit or a call. 

This role once entirely rested with the Priest - now, in a different world, this person might be a churchwarden, sidesperson or another volunteer who is faithful and busy in the background. This person is a go-to person, helping the congregation in any way they can and drawing people alongside them. The focal leader role is given to this person who is grounded in their faith, in their church and community. Experience and research in other dioceses suggest that the presence of a focal leader in church life is linked with increased growth of all kinds.

A focal leader is a local leader, clergy or lay,  who is an everyday face of the church in their local community. Within their role, focal leaders bring an intentional focus on growth, mission and discipleship to the action of the church. It can take different shapes, depending on the needs of the parish and the focal leaders themselves. Focal Ministers may already be a Reader, Churchwarden, or Authorised Lay Minister, others may be ordained. Focal Ministry is open to everyone. 

Bishop David shares his hopes for focal leadership in our diocese.

For more detailed information, read the paper that was taken to Diocesan Synod in October 2022.

Key tasks

Why have a focal leader in your church?

Who might become a focal leader?

What might the role entail?

Focal leadership in action

Next Steps and Resources


Contact us

Key tasks

Within the church, the focal leader will:

  • Be an everyday face of the church.
  • Provide or facilitate the maintenance of a missional focus in all activities.
  • Hold the pastoral continuity of relationship within the church community.
  • Work collaboratively, to encourage others.
  • Ensure that the identified action of the church happens, but not to do it all themselves.
  • Encourage and facilitate the discipleship of others.
  • Be commissioned for a three-year period.

Within the Mission Community, the focal leader will:

  • Communicate the unique character and vision of the worshipping community into the Mission Community Leadership Team (MCLT).
  • Represent and uphold the vision and mission of the MCLT back into the worshipping community.
  • Contribute collaboratively to the life of the mission community, always with a missional focus.

Within the local community, the focal leader will:

  • As a ‘face of their church’: foster, develop and build links with both the local community and also with those who come into Church.

Why have a focal leader in your church?

Research has found that churches with focal leaders:

  • are more likely to grow.

  • develop more active disciples, living out their faith where they are.

  • have more people involved in doing what needs to be done in church, enabling belonging and participation.

  • have more resources to be mission-focused locally. 

  • naturally work alongside others doing the same, across the mission community.

Who might become a focal leader?

Focal leadership is an option for potentially anyone. It isn’t dependent upon previous training, although ongoing training, support and review will be offered and expected. Focal leadership encourages us all to consider our own discipleship and place in God’s church—in response to God’s calling and equipping.

As part of being a Church for a Different World, focal leaders will be an everyday presence and focus of ministry within their church and community. Focal leadership is a role not dependent upon previous training, and can be prayerfully considered by all. 

Focal leaders are people who love God, love their church and love their local community and will already be a recognisable and trusted person in church life.

Focal leaders have a heart for living the Good News inside church, and where they live. They will be open to learning new things, confident in their own faith and will work to encourage others.

They will have an infectious faith which they take with them into their local community, making links with church and local life. 

The role of focal leader may appeal to people who:

  • are local, trusted and active in church life.

  • feel called to something more.

  • have a heart to see their church grow.

  • are willing to begin a discernment process.

  • are willing to be trained, supported and have others alongside.

They are likely to be:

  • faithful in public worship and private prayer.

  • passionate about living out their faith in church life and in their local community.

  • an encourager, a listener, a pray-er and a disciple.

  • deeply committed to their own church community and to the mission it shares with others in its mission community.

  • flexible, open and approachable, a trusted and respected member of the church community.

  • a life-long learner.

What might the role entail?

A focal leader will:

  • be a go-to-person for the church in the community.

  • hold the continuity from Sunday to Sunday.

  • notice and use the skills of others, to build on what God is doing. 

  • encourage and enable others to participate.

  • be enthusiastic about helping others grow as disciples too.

  • acknowledge the need for welcome, love and care for all in ways which reflect the Gospel. 

  • share the vision of the mission community in their church and represent the vision of their church in the mission community.

  • draw people into the action of the church, so that all can take part.

Focal leadership in action

Robina Jones, Focal Leader at St George’s Unsworth, Bury:

”As the focal leader at St George’s, I want to be welcoming and approachable and to encourage others in the church and community — to pray alongside them, share faith and offer pastoral care.

"I want to see our congregation grow and encourage others in their walk with God. It is an honour and a privilege to be St George’s focal leader, the ‘face’ of my church."

Read more Focal leaders: Robina Jones’ story

Alan Davey, Focal Leader at St Paul’s, Rawtenstall:

“I view my position as like leading a team of good people with different skills who do things in church, and I’m passionate about people being released into their gifting.

“We’re all learning together, benefitting from each other and learning what each church is good at, whether that be messy church, coffee mornings or something else.” 

Read more Focal leaders: Alan Davey's story

Next Steps 

To be a focal leader you will need to have the support of your Minister, mission community leader and your PCC. You will be asked to complete a focal leader nomination form which will include references, and may need to comply with safeguarding procedures including recruitment, checks and training.

Focal leadership discernment begins simply with prayer and a conversation.

Why not talk to your Minister, Churchwarden, mission community leader, or the Focal Ministry Officer at the diocese to find out more?

Nomination form - this begins the Nomination process and should be completed by the focal leader-designate, in consultation with their PCC.

Personal Profile form - this gives more information about the focal leader, including their journey, skills and safeguarding information, to be completed by the focal leader.

Ministry Agreement - to be completed by the focal leader and their Incumbent or minister, Mission Community Leader, Churchwarden or PCC. Focal leaders who are Bishop’s Licence holders will have a slightly different nomination process and are invited to contact the Focal Ministry officer for advice on how to proceed.


Focal leadership leaflet

Explore booklet

Explore is for anyone wanting to explore focal ministry in their church. You are encouraged to do this in a small group, best representing a mixture of roles from your context. This booklet aims to:

  • bring people together in a discussion to consider how focal leadership might benefit your church and community
  • help you consider who your focal leader could be, what they might do and to work towards thinking about a role

Printed copies are available on request, simply message


Who decides what a focal leader does?

The role is unique to each focal leader and their local place and this will be determined by the Vicar, mission community leader, PCC, the focal leader-designate and other key players. There will be training where needed and regular support and review.

How much time will it take?

Time spent on the role will be determined within the working agreement, and will  reflect the home and work situation of the focal leader and the envisaged shape of the role responsibilities.

Will there be help and support for focal leaders?

There will be an induction period, flexible training delivered locally where possible and accessible, whatever your experience. There will be local support from within the mission community, other focal leaders and through the Focal Ministry Officer at the diocese. There will always be someone to talk to, share or pray with and resources available.

How do I know if it’s me?

Firstly, pray! Then have a conversation with your minister or mission community leader. There are resources available to help parishes discern who the focal leader might be and what the role might look like for your church and community.

Will focal leaders be commissioned?

Yes! Commissioning will take place locally in mission communities or parishes, for a period of three years.

Contact us

For more information about focal ministry please contact:

Beverley Angier, Focal Ministry Officer 

07423 711298

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