It has been conventional wisdom for a long time that groups of clergy colleagues are good for pastors’ health. I’ve been invited into groups like this in both of the communities I have served, and I have been part of national groups as well. I have found them to be a helpful source of insight and encouragement.
But I think the emphasis for clergy needs to shift from finding these groups to forming them, which is a totally different skill set. Forming a group of clergy colleagues requires leadership among our peers, which most of us don’t feel we have permission to exert. But I have been grateful for the leadership my colleagues have exercised in setting a date and a time, calling peers, and saying, “I need this to exist and I want you in it” (Iona, I’m looking at you).
For such a group to accomplish what its founders want (study, accountability, learning), someone is going to have to lead, again in a way none of us feels we have a right to do. But with a group of colleagues that gathered for three days last December, one of us proposed (and led!) a Leadership Learning Conversation process that was the heart of our work (Landon, I’m looking at you).
Groups like these are tools for our health and learning in ministry, but they don’t just exist. Someone has to start them, and someone has to lead them (even the most collaborative group needs, at the very least, a facilitator). If there’s not a group where you are, what’s keeping you from making one?