Friday, March 07, 2014

Blessing Ranch Covenant Group (Part Deux)

About five months ago, I posted about my initial meeting with a covenant group at Blessing Ranch. You can read about my first group time here. It was a life-changing experience that I would encourage any minister to consider.

Many people don't know about the loneliness of ministry.

Less than 25% of Christian men surveyed have a close male friend right now.

But get this: For ministers, the percentage is even smaller. Less than 5% of ministers have a close friend. In other words in a room of 100 ministers, fewer than 5 of them have a close friend!

There are many reasons for this tragic statistic:
1) Many ministers have been burned by a friend in the past. We don't know who to trust.
2) Some ministers have allowed the institutional hierarchy of his/her church to keep him/her away from meaningful relationships within the body. Who wants to be friends with a minister?
3) Ministers have allowed their ridiculous schedules and inability to say "no" to allow us little time for building relationships. Who has time for a close friend?
4) Some ministers have built a public facade that cannot withstand the scrutiny of a close relationship. If I have a close friend, he/she will see through my stage act.
5) We forget that ministry is about people and not about programs.

Regardless of your agreement with the reasons I've stated above, this trend of shallow relationships for ministers should concern us.

We know how to preach about community, but very few of us have any community to truly speak of.

These stats have to change.

And Alan Ahlgrim (and others) is giving his life to see these statistics change. Alan, the former Senior Pastor of Rocky Mountain Christian Church, has put together several covenant groups in his first year as Director of Covenant Groups for Blessing Ranch.

Today, I am able to say that I am in covenant with three other ministers who are committed to talking monthly and connecting face-to-face semi-annually for several days of reflection, disclosure, discovery, and discernment.

This past week was such a blessing to me. Here are a few pictures I took from my time on the Ranch:

Here is a picture looking from the guest house at the vistas directly above Blessing Ranch:
Here are several pictures I took from from the top of the ridge in the picture above:

1 comment:

Cliff Mullen said...

It is all too true that finding friends within the church you serve as a minister can be extremely difficult. As with most imperfect scenarios, everyone carries a degree of blame. A key point of tension seems to be unrealistic expectations. Members and ministers both have expectations of one another that can never be fulfilled. This underlying tension makes "friendship" an incredible challenge.

In my experience, my closest personal friends are almost exclusively outside the church I work with. The exception to that is primarily ministry staff. The challenge of making friends outside of my church is that as soon as people find out I'm a minister, the walls go up for fear that they must achieve some mystical level of holiness to be around me (just ask the neighbor who literally ran at the sight of me for over a year). It can be a lonely gig, but we were the ones crazy enough to choose it.

Here's to hoping that we will be bold enough to confess our shortcomings, courageous enough to arrange our lives to be obedient to God's call on us to be part of his church, and wise enough to discover friendship with the beautiful people God has filled his church with.