A few years back, our bishop, Thomas J. Bickerton, stated a goal of having pastors be involved in small groups together to encourage each other, help each other get better at what we do, and to help hold one another more accountable in our journey as pastors. It was a great idea and a horrible one as well.
GREAT! because we clergy need to stop being the ‘Lone Rangers’ out there… We need each other, we need someone to help encourage when the world gets overwhelming, and we SURELY, like ALL Christians, need someone to boldly ask how our own spiritual walk with Jesus Christ is going.
HORRIBLE! because any time something is arbitrarily decided FOR us, and we then have to live it out on our own, feels like just one more ‘GOTTA’ in a whole BUNCH of gotta’s. Which tends to wake up the rebellious teenager from my past that says ‘I shouldn’t have to’ and ‘You can’t make me!’ (I suppose there’s a chance that I’m not alone in those feelings and responses…)
I was already meeting occasionally with a friend who is also a UM pastor in my conference but was a friend from years before as well. But that didn’t count.
I have since participated in three of the clergy groups (where I was living determined where I attended). All three just sort of stopped meeting… without any decision to stop meeting (that I’m aware of).
So it was interesting to me to read this article from the Center for Pastoral Excellence on “When Clergy Peer Groups Don’t Work ( & Why).”
I was disappointed in that it came from the negative side only. (I ALREADY know A LOT of things that Do Not work… Now tell me some that DO!), but it was insightful and interesting none-the-less.
Check it out! I’d love to hear about clergy peer groups that really HAVE worked (and why/how).