What is the Transforming Leadership Programme?

The TLP is a globally developed leadership programme for innovative Christian leaders. It supports men and women who have a pioneering vision to see significant social change in their community or nation. It exists to identify, connect and equip such people from across Ireland utilizing learning from global best practice. It has been developed from Tearfund’s Inspired Individuals Programme. The programme has been funded for two years by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust.

“Apart from the excellent training, my highlight from the Leadership Programme has been the group of people I have shared it with who have become friends. The diversity of experiences and backgrounds creates a rich environment for both conversation and learning from each other that has been incredibly worthwhile.”

Neil Harrison, Mission Development Officer, Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

This programme is part of Thrive Ireland’s wider strategy and is centred on the values ​​of the kingdom of God complementing our other strategic aims of peacebuilding and Church Community Transformation.

What kind of person do we look for to join the programme?

We look for passionate, visionary individuals with integrity. He or she would:
  • Have a living Christian faith and seek to make choices based on Christian values.
  • Be working in an area of socio-economic deprivation in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.
  • Show willingness and the ability to engage with the local church.
  • Demonstrate an entrepreneurial capacity to bring significant social change.
  • Have evidence that they are already working to implement their vision.
  • Be proactively seeking to learn and share their learning with others as they endeavour to turn their vision into reality.
  • Be willing to commit to participation in at least 90% of the residential, training and coaching/mentoring/pastoral activities.
  • Consideration will be given to the entrepreneurial nature of the ministry and the likely social impact it will have.

“The opportunity to take time out and reflect with peers on the challenges of leadership in our current placements, and receive quality inputs regarding resilience, dealing with difficult relationships and other issues, is invaluable.” 

David Campton, Belfast Central Methodist Mission.

What do we offer Transformational Leaders?

Transforming Leadership is a one year programme and has four main components:

Prayer support

Is a core value of the programme and foundational to the work.

Mentoring and coaching

Each leader will receive regular mentoring, coaching and pastoral support throughout the duration of the programme.

Fellowship and Networking

The opportunity for leaders to get together with others working in similar areas, to encourage learning and collaboration and a sense of identity and belonging.

Training / Bespoke learning & skills development

Thrive Ireland will work with each leader on a personal capacity assessment and tailor-made development plan. There will be at least two training events during the year of the programme.

For example, within many of the public housing estates, a legacy of the conflict is control through fear, by paramilitary organisations. Recruitment of young people into such organisations is still rife, with punishment violence a normal part of everyday life. Anti-social behaviour is controlled through threat and punishment beatings, eviction from the area and young people attending pre-arranged beatings. In this context local churches and leadership either avoid this reality, are ill prepared to engage effectively or do not even know that it is happening.

As a consequence church leaders called to engage effectively in these settings are more likely to suffer from work related stress, chronic fatigue and burnout. Even within the main denominations, accountability and supervision of clergy in such settings is often low and not well understood.

Churches remain a major community resource with capacity and commitment to long term presence in a local area. Therefore the inculcation of integral missional values which have relationships at their heart will help churches to better understand that their missional role can have a lasting transformational impact on the wider community both locally and regionally, building a community with Christian values at its heart, a community that is just and equitable.


Thrive Ireland’s foundational conviction is that at the heart of the gospel is both our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. The Protestant churches in areas of socio- economic deprivation are searching for ways of reaching out to the lost and building positive relationships within these communities.

Through experience and research funded by the Community Relations Council in N. Ireland, it is clear that the capacity of church leaders, both clergy and laity within such areas is low. This is demonstrated through an inability to engage with fractured relationships and offer more practical community support. In such areas there is often increased pastoral need and a low confidence and skill base within the congregations.

In most of the large denominations across Ireland, support and leadership training in dealing with issues such as community conflict, community cohesion, capacity building and skills development for greater personal resilience and community transformation. Theological training colleges prepare leadership well in spiritual and theological understanding. However, in areas of deprivation, in the context of community conflict and community development needs the church would benefit from additional support and expertise. This is pertinent when it comes to the challenges of working in areas of socio-economic deprivation in a post-conflict society.

Potential Issues for leadership in areas of socio-economic deprivation:

  • Isolation – lack of understanding from colleagues of the specific ministry challenges of such areas.
  • Lack of understanding of local poverty issues or the community infrastructure which could offer support.
  • Low capacity congregations who believe they have low skill and leadership ability, esteem etc. OR mixed congregation made up of both local community members and more affluent and seemingly “able” members from outside the community. This leads to leadership coming from outside the local community who have a lack of understanding of the needs of that community.
  • Increased pastoral responsibility for non church members in the surrounding community.
  • Increased pastoral responsibility for high risk/challenging issues eg. Community conflict, punishment violence, gender based violence, suicide.
  • Competing demands of congregation, community and wider “Church” responsibilities eg. Vacancies in other congregations they may have responsibility for, committee responsibility depending on the denomination.
  • Time management
  • Mental health and emotional well-being.
  • Accountability.
  • Delegation.


  • info@thriveireland.org
  • (+44) 28 9073 0068
    (+44) 7749 056403
  • 241 Newtownards Road
    Belfast BT4 1AF