Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another. Pr. 27:17 (CSB)
Peer learning groups – usually of 3-5, though that number can vary – are wonderful ways to experience and apply Pr. 27:17 if the focus is on sharpening one another spiritually, emotionally, and missionally.
How are you leading your association to train your pastors, church staff, and key leaders in godliness? If you do not have a strategy, this is a viable one many associations across the nation have found effective.
My association, the Southside Baptist Network, elected a Vision Team last year that spent several months developing a new mission statement that was adopted Sept. 10, 2020: Equipping congregations and encouraging leaders to engage our communities with the Gospel. Our strategy to fulfill that mission is through cohorts, conferences, and coaching.
We call our peer learning communities for pastors, discipleship pastors, and student pastors “cohorts.” We could have called them roundtables, small groups, etc. The basic definition of “cohort” is a group or a company. I especially like this alternative definition: any group of soldiers or warriors (Dictionary.com). I like to think of ourselves as warriors for Christ sharpening one another in these cohorts.
Roundtables typically, but not necessarily, allow the group to choose their own topic or book to study. In my association, I felt that was too loosey-goosey.
I am privileged that my pastors have allowed me to choose the book and to facilitate our seven Pastor Cohorts so we can all move toward the same goal: to be a network of Gospel-driven churches. Therefore, we studied J. D. Greear’s book, “Gospel Above All,” the previous school year – one chapter each month. This school year we are discussing Jared Wilson’s book, “The Gospel-Driven Church,” a chapter a month, August - May. Jared is the Author in Residence at Midwestern Seminary and Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry, Spurgeon College, Kansas City, MO. Both the concepts and the peer learning, prayer, and support of one another have been fantastic. We have Cohorts that meet during breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an hour and a half, usually including a meal.
These Cohorts have allowed me to get to know my pastors better - their prayer requests, their burdens, their passions, their heartaches and hurts. They have been a great way to stay in touch and minister to them - even during COVID-19. When we could not meet in a restaurant, we were able to meet by Zoom. Now we meet and eat and discuss and pray at our SBN Ministry Center around six-foot tables set up in a circle (one person at each table), socially distanced.
I hope you will prayerfully consider offering some form of Pastor Peer Learning Groups in your association.
If you already have such groups, what benefits have you seen?
Your brother in Christ,
Quotable Quote: “When God is about to extend great mercy upon His people, He first sets them to prayer.” Matthew Henry, quoted by Byron Paulus, One Cry, 2.4.21
Prayer is the one common denominator of every great move of God’s Spirit. My mentor in the ways of God in revival used to repeat over and over, “Every revival in the history of the world has been given birth to, cradled, or nurtured in prayer.” I could not agree more. And I could go on and on about the importance of prayer when it comes to the ways of God in revival. Byron Paulus, The Opportunity of a Lifetime, One Cry, 2.4.21