I have written about The Dangers of Pastoral Isolation and why pastors should put significant effort into placing themselves in an environment where they can fellowship with others in ministry. This will benefit your church and help sustain you on your church revitalization journey. As I have talked with pastors, several have asked about ways to network with more pastors.
There are four primary ways that many have found beneficial.
This is the most common method of pastoral fellowship. Most denominations will have local groups or associations with regularly scheduled meetings or conferences. Take advantage of these. I know some who avoid them because they feel too political or cliquish. However, the benefit of being around other pastors outweighs any frustration that might arise.
If denominational meetings are not your thing, perhaps you can find someone you trust who has been in ministry for a longer period of time who would be willing to meet with you weekly. While meeting with only one person each week does not necessarily provide many new or creative ideas, it can provide a system of support and encouragement. It gives you someone to be a sounding board, a prayer warrior, and a confidant.
If you are on Facebook, search for pastoral groups. Several focus on church revitalization, pastoral support, and providing ways of sharing creative ideas. This does not provide the face-to-face support and encouragement you need, but it will help narrow that gap. It will help you interact with other pastors. It provides a platform for sharing prayer needs. If social media is not your thing, consider joining a paid online community such as the one created by Thom Rainer at Church Answers. While it’s not a perfect system, it may provide value to you.
Many pastors serve in rural communities where denominational networking is impossible. Others are bi-vocational, and getting time off work to attend conferences is next to impossible. Also, an increasing number of pastors are not on social media, so benefiting from online communities is not a good option.
If you fall into these categories, you must be very intentional not to serve on an island. Make a point to reach out to another pastor in your area at least twice a month. Offer to take them to lunch or meet for coffee. Most pastors will never accidentally drift into spending more time with other pastors. This must be an intentional effort. Spend some time today evaluating how much time you spend with other pastors. What steps can you take to place yourself in a position to reap the benefits of fellowship with other pastors? Determine to take those stems today.