Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
My first youth pastor role was in a historic Assemblies of God church in the San Francisco Bay area. I had never been a youth pastor before, in fact, I had never had a youth pastor growing up in the rural church my parents pastored. Although I was enthusiastic and eager, I quickly discovered that I was not designed to go it alone as a believer nor as a leader. I needed community.
My lead pastor wisely encouraged me to get connected with other experienced youth pastors in the area and allow them to mentor, encourage and enrich the calling on my life. Bob Gregg, a veteran youth pastor in the area, gladly connected with me and became a real help in those early years. Bob and I met frequently, and every time I went away with a new insight or idea that took me to a new level of ministry leadership. The biggest takeaway in those early years of ministry was the value of being in community.
“Community is not only important for church attendees; it is vital for church leaders.” Bill Wilson
This past year we have all been alarmed by prominent ministers who have disqualified themselves by sinful behavior and greatly grieved with those who have ended their lives. Although the percentage is very small, it is still a painful reminder of the value of being connected with others in community. A minister who isolates or disconnects themselves from others will begin to drift into discouragement or fall into temptation.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
When Jesus is truly at the center of our lives we will see the need of being in community with other ministers. Here are three principles that I know work.
1. Community helps you stay focused and faithful as a minister. 2. Community helps you develop and strengthen your gifts. 3. Community helps protect you from drifting emotionally and theologically.
I encourage you to stay fully engaged with pastors and ministers in your OMN family. Attend regional and statewide gatherings. Determine to not go another week without talking with and praying with another pastor.
Finally, put into practice the P.B.T. Model. Find a Paul (a mentor). Find a Timothy (someone to disciple). Find a Barnabas (peers to encourage and be encouraged by).
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.