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Larry Osbourne (church leader) refers to his first three years of ministry as, “the dark years.”

Tim Keller (church leader) recently tweeted the sentiment, ‘if we always look back at ourselves and say: we were ignorant and naive, what does that makes us now?’

After three years of church leadership I am aware of the learning I have experienced, while I also feel aware of the learning and need for support that will be ahead. Wisdom in Proverbs says,

[22] Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)

It is for this reason I am particularly grateful and pleased with the friendship and support that I, and Grace Church Exeter have been both receiving and exploring outside of our local setting.

Matt Partridge (Emmanuel Church Oxford) has been a superb friend, lightning rod, support, mentor and truth teller for me and my senior leadership team. He has ‘been there’ through thick and thin and I am profoundly grateful for his ongoing input. I am yet to beat him and golf. It will happen.

David Stroud (ChristChurch London) has created and is providing contexts for us to be, and get to know a few people asking similar questions to grow in friendship, share wisdom and to spur each other on. It is amazingly reassuring to feel understood among others, not least by those who have planted churches, and led national movements. David and Philippa have provisionally agreed to speak at our church weekend away in 2016.

Mick and Val Taylor (CityGate Bournemouth) have been a tremendous support and encouragement. I love time with the Taylors, and have particularly appreciated Mick reading endless documents, drafts and proposals to bring theological reflection, correction and nuance when needed. Experienced pastors are such a gift to young guns like me.

Howard Worsley BA, MA, PhD (Tutor of Missiology, Trinity College Bristol) has offered me time and some guided reading around some of the issues we are grappling with. It has been an inspiration and really helped trace deeper historical and theological roots to present day challenges. I am pursuing an MA application with Howard and hope to do much work with him in the years ahead. I feel that I have already received loads from him!

Steve and Helen Pollard (Bespoke Ministry) have supported us and had input both through receiving referrals, bringing some teaching and counselling Chloe and I! With 30 years coaching and counselling experience we have benefitted enormously from our time with Steve and Helen. I love the way Helen particularly is able to integrate her faith and professional expertise.

Andrew and Laura Sampson (Grace Church Truro), Jon and Hannah Fielder (Redeemer Birmingham) and Tim Blaber (Christ Central Portsmouth) have been inspirational and challenging peers to have in my life. Time with these guys has been exceedingly nourishing to Chloe and I over the years and we hope to continue these connections in the future.

‘What you do’ is a big deal.

‘Who you do it with’ has also proved to be very important.

Whilst all relationships change and evolve, I am thankful and humbled by all those who have helped us so far. I look forward to receiving more help where people are willing and hope to be a blessing both to these wonderful people and to others as a result.

(Image: © Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon, Creative Commons Licence)

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