7 Reasons All of Us Pastors Need Great Friends in Our Church

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It almost seems strange to me to write this post, for my early professors and mentors cautioned me against developing strong friendships in the church I pastor. I’m so grateful, though, for the folks God has placed in my life in four decades of ministry—people who’ve loved me, supported me, prayed for me, and stood by me in mistakes. At age 63, I’m convinced more than ever that every pastor needs great friends not only in life in general, but also in the church he leads. Here’s why:

  1. The gospel is a story of love extended and received, and surely we should experience both in congregations we lead. It’s risky to love at that level, but not to do so seems to be antithetical to the message we proclaim.
  2. None of us should be doing ministry alone. God didn’t create us to be loners, nor did He design His church in such a way we don’t need each other. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Our not developing genuine friendships in the church ultimately weakens our leadership.
  3. Just one word of genuine support from a church member friend goes a long way in encouraging us to stay faithful. For me, one word of affirmation from a trusted brother in Christ gives me courage to press on, regardless of what I might be facing otherwise.
  4. When we struggle—and we do, and we will—we desperately need someone who will pick us up gently and walk beside us even while holding us accountable. Only a good friend can do that well in love; only those who love us will seek to help us redemptively.
  5. We need to model strong, healthy relationships for our family. Our spouses and our children need their own friendships, and they need to see what godly relationships look like. We can’t model them well if we choose not to invest emotionally in the people we lead.
  6. Yesterday’s great friendships (which often remain as today’s great friendships even after the Lord calls us to a new place of service) remind us of God’s blessings. I can give you name after name after name of folks I’ve pastored who became great friends—and I view them as God’s gifts to me.
  7. Believers best see our faith lived out not in the pulpit, but in the daily grind of life. That is, they find out whether our faith is real when we share life together. We can’t do that much without real friendship.

To all my church-based great friends, thank you!


Editor’s note: This post was originally published at

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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.

  • Friendship
  • Pastoral Burnout
  • Pastoral Ministry
Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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