There is a big part of me that is hesitant to write this post. There are a couple reasons. First, I am not an expert in this subject. Second, I have been blessed with a great group of guys and I don't want to lessen the value of the group I'm a part of by writing this. Third, there has been yet another scandal in the church and it weighs on my heart.
About a week ago I was talking with a good friend in ministry. He said this exact line: "Did you see what happened to Carl Lentz?" I quickly replied that I hadn't. I could hear the tone in his voice change. I've known him for almost twenty years and I could tell by his long pause that it was bad. He sent me a link and all it took was one Google search to read that another pastor had a moral failure.
For my friends who don't attend church, I want to apologize for the actions of this man, and many others, who have commited a moral failure. I know it's my fault but I see how it hurts you and the witness of the church. It hurts my heart that you may never trust Jesus because of stories like this.
This brings me to the reason for this post. I know that I am far from perfect (just ask my kids). I have seen enough leaders fall and it hurts my heart. Maybe thirteen years ago I was invited to join a group of pastors that would provide a greater level of accountability, friendship, and ministry connection. I joined the group, bought a plane ticket, and had to resign myself from the group. My seminary schedule changed and I was more committed to finishing my degree at that time in my life. Sometimes I regret that choice.
A couple years later I was talking with my friend who started this group. I asked him to bring me into the group now. After a couple calls he let me know it wouldn't work. There was a cohesion in the group and I understand that. But he said the best line: "Start your own group."
If you're still reading, I began to pray about starting that group. I remember praying for months at the gym. I had a short list of guys that I wanted to do life with and sent them this email:
I hope you’re all doing well. Its been on my heart for the last couple years to start a group. Before you think, “I can’t do one more thing in my life.” hear me out. We are all called to pastoral ministry. In my church context I have come to realize that in most situations I am looked to for spiritual care and leadership. I have a select group of guys who I can go to for prayer. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I need more. I need a band of brothers to do life with.
Here is what I’m thinking:
Meet once a year
Go away for 2-5 days
Meet in a central location
At this point I’m thinking the purpose of this group would be:
- Spiritual Growth
- Deep accountability
I don’t have everything work out but am convinced that I need something like this in my life and my guess is that you do also. You may have guys you connect with but I can see this group growing into something special. I know getting away for 2-5 days can be tough with family, work and other commitments but I think the benefit is going to far outweigh the cost.
I’ve been praying about this all week long and am finally acting on something I think God has been putting on my heart to start for about 2 years now. If you’re in just reply and let me know. Right now I’m thinking about October 10-11, 2016 for our first gathering. Aiming for the San Bernardino Mountains for the location. There may be a few guys on here you don’t know but they are good dudes, trust me!
Sending that email changed my life.
Everyone of those guys said: "Yes!"
I'm writing this email not to give details about the group but to encourage you to have people you do life with. We live in a society that is so easy to feel connected and be so distant. I am saddened to see of people throwing their marriage away, hurting others, and sabotaging their lives.
Maybe God will use this post to help you deepen community and relationship in your life.