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| Bob Bumgarner |

The Don’t Pastor Alone Challenge

What is the Don’t Pastor Alone challenge?

Jesus said it like this, “Love one another as I have loved you.” These are some of Jesus’ last words to the disciples as he wraps up his in-person equipping time. This band of future church planters, pastors, evangelists, and movement leaders are only a few days away from being deployed. And Jesus is using some of his precious final words to codify the need for genuine friendships among ministry leaders.

It is important to be reminded that this challenge was not spoken to general rank-and-file believers. Jesus is looking right into the eyes and hearts of first-generation ministry leaders. Knowing their human limitations, mission-field complexities, and the urgency of the mission, he calls them to friendship. A friendship characterized by the love, trust and loyalty he has already modeled.

Why a call to friendship between ministry leaders?

Because the church is not just a collection of people who gather weekly for the program we plan. The church is a living, breathing community of people woven together emotionally and spiritually for God’s purposes. And as the book of Proverbs so clearly reveals we would be hard pressed to lead skillfully according to wisdom without the perspective, accountability, and encouragement of ministry friendships.

Why are friendships between ministry leaders challenging?

We are too busy. In the triage of our scheduling, the benefit of friendship is too low. So, we ignore it or put it off. We are too particular. There are no perfect friends. So, why even try? We have too much painful friendship baggage. A ministry friend has betrayed us, deceived us, or let us down, and we project that pain onto future friendships. We are too comfortable in our isolation. We are not sure if anyone wants to know the “real us.” And if no one really knows me I get to stay on my leadership pedestal.

Let’s Take The Challenge

Wise pastors develop multiple wise friendships for ministry.

Solomon reminds us, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” Let’s do this together, build our very own ministry wisdom friendship networks.

You might find these friends in your church, your First Coast Churches network, your state convention or any way God chooses to resource you. Look for these kinds of friendships:

  • The Skillful Coach: The skillful coach “draws out” of you. They assume you have the answer or skill needed, and their job is to ask the right question to help you discover what you already know. They ask open-ended questions instead of advising.
  • The Bold Challenger: Find someone who sees more in you than you see. They challenge the status quo in nonthreatening ways. They say things like, “You can do this.”
  • The Wise Guide: The wise guide “pours into” you. They speak to you from their years of experience. They say things like, “If I were in your situation I might….”
  • The Traveling Companion: You may not live near your traveling companion, but you keep up with each other. They pray for you and check in on you without being prompted. They remind you of the progress you have made over the seasons of ministry.
  • The Ministry Partner: You see ministry in similar ways as a ministry partner. Your passion about ministry may even be the same. These are often people you do ministry with where you are. They become a sounding board and burden bearer within your specific context of ministry responsibility.
  • The Trusted Confidant: Healthy leaders have one or two people who can be a secret keeper. When you need to unpack your feelings or bad leadership experiences so you can process them in a healthy you need someone who will keep your confidences. These people listen empathetically and don’t try to solve your problem. They love you in your mess.
  • The Young Leader: You need a Timothy. Paul helped Timothy live into his calling. Who is in your network that you are regularly and intentionally adding value to? Remember when you are with a young leader their perspective can help keep your perspective fresh.
  • The Next-Phase Practitioner: Humanly speaking, what is the next phase of your ministry? If you are running 75 in your church, who do you know that is running 150 that might know some things you need to know? If your church is in a transitioning neighborhood who has helped a church transition effectively? How might they be able to help you?

There are multiple ways to take the “Don’t Pastor Alone Challenge”. Every report you hear today will be an invitation into a Don’t Pastor Alone Moment. We have one goal as a First Coast Churches ministry team, and that is to help you plant churches together, strengthen churches together, engage our communities together and serve pastors together.

Whichever challenge you take, remember that this is not just another program. Jesus calls us to “love one another as He has loved us!”

Download the Don’t Pastor Alone handout

Lead Missional Strategist

Bob Bumgarner