Some pastors never hang out with peers. Other pastors are very intentional in making time to meet regularly with other pastors. Research says that there is a wide difference between the two.
According to a three year study of pastoral leader participation in peer groups initiated by the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) Initiative of the Lilly Endowment, Inc., congregations with Pastors who are regularly involved in a peer group 1) are more likely to promote a “culture of involvement” that actively assimilates newcomers and involves members in leadership, 2) have more active youth programs and activities, and 3) are more involved in community service and positive community change.
Interestingly, peer group involvement was also found to be a positive factor in healthy church growth. In one part of the study that focused on “what congregational and peer group factors predict growth” in the church, one of the six factors that emerged was “a pastoral leader with a history of peer group involvement.”
The surveys also found that specific types of peer groups were most desirable for certain demographics and outcomes. Younger pastors tended to seek out a peer group because they were feeling “stuck” in ministry, but ended up staying in peer groups long-term in order to “recharge their spiritual batteries.” They benefited from a peer group that focused on the relational and spiritual, and had a flexible structure. Older pastors stayed with groups that employed “intellectual challenge as a vehicle for ministry improvement” and benefited from a denominationally-diverse context.
So what makes a successful peer group? Key factors that led to a renewal of ministry were a balance of relational, spiritual, and instrumental interests and practices. Across the board, must-haves for any positive peer group were quality leadership and strong group cohesion.
Invitation to Join OUR Peer Groups
Leadership Network help meet this need for peer cohorts through what we call Leadership Communities. Our unique Life Stage Leadership Communities create relational peer networks of senior pastors who share similar ministry challenges and desire connections to other pastors serving in similar ministry stages. We offer opportunities for Next Gen Pastors (ages 25-45) and for Senior Pastor 2 (veteran Senior Pastors age 45+). You can learn more about them here or by contacting email@example.com (about next gen pastors) or firstname.lastname@example.org (veteran senior pastors).