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Building Ministry Friendships

Our recent Pastoral Wellbeing Survey revealed that just over half of pastors don’t have friends in ministry to help them recharge. Phil Topham reports on one initiative which could go a long way to solving that problem.

Building Ministry Friendships primary image

Eight ministry families from Independent churches in Berkshire gathered together for a day of fellowship and prayer in September. The Ministry Families Day was a chance to share experiences and encourage support among pastors and their families.

In our Pastoral Wellbeing Survey, more than half of pastors (52%) felt that they didn’t have a friend in ministry to help them to recharge. In part, this day of fellowship in Marlow was designed to help build those sorts of friendships.

Encouraging spiritual support

It was arranged by Mike and Anne Daly from Marlow Baptist Church, aided by David and Elinor Magowan from Carey Baptist Church in Reading. Mike is an FIEC Visitor which means he helps churches from within the Fellowship to network and offer one another encouragement and spiritual support.

He says it was good to gather these families together and hear the pastors talk to each other about the specific issues they are facing in ministry:

“They were discussing everything from who to appoint as elders and how churches manage the calling of a new pastor to how having small children affects their life and ministry, as well as fitting in a family holiday for rest and refreshment.

Other conversations focused on sermon preparation and how to organise family outreach and there were also discussions about practical matters like church building repairs and receiving help from FIEC Practical Services.”

As the name suggests, the Ministry Families Day wasn’t just for pastors. Mike says they made sure there was something for everyone:

“The wives don’t always have the same opportunities as their husbands for fellowship so our meeting began with the men taking the children to the park while the women had a time of sharing and prayer.

Anne encouraged the women to talk about personal, family and church needs and noted the immediate sympathy, advice and support from the others, particularly towards the younger wives.

Everyone came back together for a picnic lunch in the park and afterwards we all agreed that it would be good to do this again.”

Plans for 2016

As well as FIEC churches taking part in the Ministry Families Day, the churches were joined by Istvan and Tunde Salanki along with their four children. Istvan pastors the Hungarian Reformed Church in Hammersmith which is the only Hungarian church in the UK.

This first gathering was such a success that Mike and Anne have already planned two more dates for Ministry Family Days in 2016. They hope to meet again in Marlow at the end of February or early March along with the second Saturday of September next year.

Mike added:

“Four ministry families could not make this first day because of other commitments but it is hoped that we may see them next time which would make a total of twelve families involved in this venture.”

If you’re a pastor or a pastor’s wife then maybe you could consider organising a Ministry Family Day in your area. You can search for other nearby FIEC churches here.

Phil Topham photo
Phil Topham - FIEC Executive Director

Phil started working for FIEC in the role of Head of Communication, but then became our Executive Director at the start of 2019. He is married to Kath and they live near Market Harborough and attend Christ Church in the town.