The one thing we want the most—strong relationships—demands us to give what we do not have—time. And not just the multi-tasking type of time where we text in our laps while nodding intermittently to show the human on the other end of the video conference that we’re also a human, not a mannequin. Strong relationships require the “Do Not Disturb” mode on our phones, sustained eye contact, meaningful conversations and maybe even a great meal.
Relationships are the foundation of gospel movements. Gospel movements are collaborative efforts of the citywide church to work for the peace and prosperity of their city. Developing the relational girth between pastors and ministry leaders in our cities that is able to carry the weight of collaboration in a complex world takes that secret ingredient we all seem to lack: time.
Here’s the million dollar question: How do we foster stronger relationships between pastors when getting them to simply show up seems like an insurmountable hurdle?
3 Things to Counter the “I’m Busy” Excuse
Here’s the million dollar idea: Create connection points pastors can’t afford to miss.
Reconsider the Frequency
This means we may not need to meet as frequently. One idea is to reconsider what an effective meeting rhythm is for the pastors in your area. Regular meeting rhythms are essential, but developing strong relationships does not mean scheduling more meetings, but facilitating the right kind of meetings. What if pastors met together once a year rather than once a quarter? Or once a month rather than once a week? We have found that quality over quantity makes the greatest impact on depth of relationships.
Put in the Pre-Work
Whatever meeting rhythm you determine, the gathering can be effective in cultivating deeper relationships if:
- The invitees are intentionally selected.
- The agenda is thoughtfully crafted.
- Next steps are communicated before the meeting ends.
The goal is to shape pastors’ gatherings in such a way that pastors do not want to miss out. This goal is not achieved without thoughtful reflection and strategy around who’s coming, what we’re going to do, and what we’re going to do next.
Prioritize the Purpose Above Everything
This means we need to be hyper-vigilant about when and why we ask pastors/leaders to gather. (It is also critical to ask: “Who is the best person to call the pastors together? Is it me?”). Too often the success of pastors’ gatherings relies solely on the number of pastors who show up. What if the determinant of success was whether pastors developed more meaningful relationships with one another because of the gathering? Getting more busy pastors into the same room does not always equal building deeper relationships between busy pastors. It takes an intentional host to create connections pastors can’t afford to miss.
You may still be wondering, “I know building relationships take time, but is there any way to speed up the process?” One pastor in Chicago responded to this question by saying, “All meaningful things take time, but I’ve seen pastors develop trust faster during concentrated times away from the distractions of everyday life.”