Today I’m reflecting on my long journey in the ministry (32 years since my first gig as an Assistant pastor) and I’m struck with one thought. How lonely and sorrowful a trail it would have been without “a little help from my friends”! I’m writing today to an audience of church planters and missionaries, potential church planters, fellow pastors and all sorts of kingdom workers. Please indulge an old man’s remembrance and take from it what you will.
One of my all time favorite television productions is a series done by HBO a few years ago called “Band of Brothers“. Based on a book by historian Stephen Ambrose, it traces the path of E Company 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division all the way from their early training through the end of the 2nd World War. These were ordinary lads, many of them in their teens, from all around the States who were called upon to do great things. They heard the call. Together they made their way across Europe and they fought together, ate together, shared foxholes with one another, died together, and together they won the war. If you haven’t seen this series I highly recommend that you do.
The parallels to our work in the kingdom of God are very plain. From my first days in the ministry until now I have been blessed by the grace of God with colleagues (brothers and sisters) who very often have brought solace, encouragement, course correction and inspiration to my soul.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
The sheer workload of church planting, of pastoring a church, of leading a denomination, of faithfully exercising one’s gifts in whatever field it is to which we have been deployed is, for some, a temptation to become or remain isolated. We are under fire or preoccupied with good things and so we find ourselves in foxholes increasingly distanced from our band of brothers and sisters. Listen for a moment to a greybeard. Resist this temptation! Be intentional about cultivating and maintaining authentic friendship.
I’m not talking about cordial professional relationships even though with many that will be all that you can secure. Fair enough. With some you may go deeper in Christ. On some you may rely. In a few you can confide. Some will lay down covering fire, will pull you from the fire, will give their last… you get the idea. Get with them and form a band of brothers!
Here in Central Minnesota, we who contribute here (Planting Partners) are doing just that. Together we are engaged in a great cause. We want to plant churches that will transform their communities by winning many souls to Jesus! In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.
We are humbly readying ourselves to accept responsibility for our region. Maybe you feel an attraction for that kind of life. Lets do this thing!