Minister, You Need a Learning Community
“Collaboration allows us to know more than we are capable of knowing by ourselves.” -Paul Solarz
It occurs to me that collaboration often takes place in my study, even as I sit alone at my desk. Books are open. I’m being challenged, inspired, enlightened, and corrected by some very sharp people, some of whom are dead, none of whom are here. I’m enjoying resources, but lacking relationship.
Renew Learning Communities offer a more robust collaboration, adding relationships to resources.
The Renew Learning Community (LC) is a group of 6-12 local church leaders in a given region who are generally—though perhaps not completely—aligned with the beliefs of Renew. They come together once every two months (in person or online) for 5 hours of study, prayer, and small group discussion. (See #6 for LC examples.)
The purpose of the LC is to encourage and equip leaders to become more effective at renewing the teachings of Jesus to fuel disciple making in their congregation or ministry.
6 REASONS WHY YOU NEED A LEARNING COMMUNITY
#1 – The stress is getting to be too much.
No, that wasn’t a 3.5 earthquake everyone just felt. That tremor was produced by you, and countless other ministers and pastors, collectively banging your heads on your desks after hearing the news of the latest COVID-19 restrictions. “A Christmas lockdown? Are you kidding me?” Christmas is not looking too merry in this year that shall not be named.
As Director of Learning Communities at Renew.org, I see and hear the stress on your face and in your voice. It’s no joke. As a long-time minister myself, I have great empathy for you faithful servants of God. You need and deserve our encouragement as you try to navigate these turbulent waters.
#2 – It’s too easy to swerve into the ditch.
If disciple making is the “road” that has been paved for us, we want to make sure we avoid ditches on either side which churches can commonly swerve into. On the one side is an ineffective traditionalism which doesn’t give much thought to reaching the culture. On the other side is an unfaithful progressivism which seeks to rewrite the script of Christianity to fit cultural values. In confusing and pressurized times, you need a group of faithful friends committed to effective and faithful ministry.
#3 – You need a band of brothers.
Knowing the challenges church leaders face—even in the best of times—is what led Renew to launch our Learning Communities. These LCs serve as regional micro-networks in which leaders can pause briefly from the demands and stress of ministry to be encouraged, pray together, and engage in deep-dive studies with fellow leaders. They have opportunity to build relationships that are deep and wide. Fellow travelers make the journey easier and more enjoyable.
“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
#4 – You believe Jesus knows best.
Jesus led a learning community. In the apostles, He had His band of brothers. Jesus was God incarnate. Why did He need 12 broken dudes? He was showing us what servant-leadership and relational disciple-making looks like.
Sadly, ministers often labor in isolation. At times, in my years of ministry, I too often operated as a lone ranger. That was a mistake I regret. Those were not productive or healthy times for me or my ministry. Jesus surrounded Himself with fellow-laborers. Isn’t that a part of His leadership model we should imitate?
#5 – You don’t want to be THAT guy.
You know, the leader that pretends like he doesn’t need anything from anybody else. “No thanks, bro. I got it.” Of course, you can travel solo if you so desire, but you will be missing out on rich and meaningful relationships, learning opportunities, wise counsel, and just plain joy that comes with a community of like-minded peers.
#6 – You’re into sound theology.
Rock-solid theology is at the core of all things Renew. We don’t seek to understand Scripture through the lens of our present culture. Rather, we interpret our culture through the prism of God’s holy Word.
Our LC gatherings offer deep-dives into biblical and timely topics. Take a look at a couple of our LC’s to get a feel for what to expect:
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit. Dave Clayton, lead minister of Ethos Church in Nashville, presented four thought-provoking lessons live on zoom, each followed by a panel discussion with Q&A, leading into multiple breakout groups (zoom rooms).
- A Grand Illusion: How Progressive Christianity Undermines Biblical Faith. David Young, lead minister of the North Boulevard Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was our teacher, providing four very informative lessons based on his recent book, A Grand Illusion. Following the teaching, we had our panel Q&A and Zoom breakout rooms.