Pastors need other pastors for encouragement. There are 3 types of local pastoral groups I want to identify: household pastoral groups, big-tent pastoral groups, and tribal pastoral groups.
Household pastoral groups: If you only hang out with your church pastors and members then you may not realize you’ve been living in an echo chamber. The same goes for you only spending time with other pastors who agree with everything you think theologically and in ministry practice.
Big-tent pastoral groups: At the same time, if you spend all your precious time with other pastors who are significantly different theologically or practically from you then you end up not advancing your own practice since you have to sift through the discussion and argue for theological points you’d rather take for granted.
The blessing of a big-tent pastoral group is that you can think outside your box and help others think outside theirs. The blessing of a household pastoral group is that you can focus on application of principles.
What I need is a tribal pastoral group that’s local. A tribal pastoral group agrees on enough of what is important in theology and practice so that you don’t need to argue for them. You can focus on implementation and encouragement. But it needs to be broad enough that you have guys in different mindsets to challenge you to think outside your box. For me, my tribal pastoral group would be one that agrees on the Together for the Gospel affirmations and denials and 9 marks of a healthy church along with the autonomy of a local church and believer’s baptism. The Gospel Coalition LA is very close to this in many ways. The Los Angeles Southern Baptist is supposed to be like this but it’s too broad (rightfully) to fulfill this slot for me.
I think pastors need both big-tent pastoral groups and tribal pastoral groups that are local.
If you’re a pastor, what do you think about pastoral groups/networks? What would you be looking for in such a group or network?