Sharing Life and Ministry
New Year’s Day has been and gone, but it’s never too late to make a positive new resolution. Trevor Archer suggests one way in which some of FIEC’s “older” pastors can be a massive blessing to their younger brothers.
Every six months for the past three years I have met with a group of younger ministers in the informality of my own home. There are six of them – all in their thirties and all pastoring FIEC churches in and around the London area. The purpose of the gatherings is to provide these men with the opportunity to share some of their joys and heartaches, to pray for one another, and to look at a topical theological or ministry issue.
As these twice yearly gatherings have become established, I’ve become more convinced of the immense significance they have for the lives of all involved. They are therefore something that I want to encourage every older minister to think about replicating in their locality. You really don’t need to be the sharpest or most able pastor around (look at me!), simply willing to open your home and life and experience of ministry to a few younger men.
A recipe for encouragement
Our pattern is to meet for five hours from late afternoon until mid-evening, and at the appropriate point a takeaway meal is ordered in! The whole event is pretty easy to organise and has the benefit of being low maintenance whilst providing an informal network of support. Over time I have seen that good friendships have been formed and a sense of being a “band of brothers” has developed.
We last met a few weeks before Christmas and on this occasion I was particularly struck by what the Lord is doing through “ordinary” local churches; things which, when added together, are enormously encouraging. Left to ourselves we invariably become too easily absorbed by the challenges we face in our own local situation and thus can easily miss some of the wonderful things the Lord is doing through a group of churches in a locality.
To give you a flavour, here’s what is currently happening in the six churches represented among the men I meet with:
- A New Church plant being planned for 2015 in a major Surrey town.
- The recruitment of a trainee Pastor on a two year programme, which includes attending the Cornhill Training Course.
- An intention to appoint an Evangelist on to staff of what is a relatively small church.
- Leading an initiative of local churches to seek to set up a Free School in a London Borough.
- A rebuilding project to meet the demands and opportunities in a socially needy area.
Real life, wise investment
Now, all six readily testified that everything was not sweetness and light! Growth was slow, conversions few and mobilising Christians for ministry proving difficult. In addition two of the young pastors had been dealing with two separate pastoral issues, both of which involved prison sentences for those involved. The emotional and mental toll these had taken on the two pastors were obvious – but so was their strengthened grip on the gospel to make, as one of them put it, “even the vilest clean”.
So dear older brothers (by which I probably mean any pastor aged 50 and above!) let me encourage you to get such a group going in your area. I’m sure you will find some ready takers among younger brothers. The return on this small investment of time is out of all proportion – and you will be blessed, so blessed!