Note: part of a series from From Followers to Leaders.  See Feb 21 blog entry for backstory.

We’re not on this journey alone. And we’re not on it just with our guide. We’re on it with our fellow hikers, our peers, our teammates. There are other people trekking nearby, having similar experiences and challenges. And periodically we all need to take a break and sit down around a campfire to rehydrate and share stories and experiences.

Different churches or ministries may call these campfire breaks many different things:  leadership community meetings, core team retreats, servant-leader appreciation events, etc. Our generic term here is networks—networks form connections with peers who share similar interests or goals. A network is a supportive, relational environment that facilitates both personal spiritual growth and the accomplishment of goals.

So what do we actually do during network times? They’re not about teaching, so cramming in content is not the point. They’re not just times to hang out, so light social events are not the goal. What we’re aiming for in our network times is intentional conversation—the sharing of ideas, struggles, celebrations, etc. Time for getting feedback and input from others who are engaged in similar ministries. Time for prayer and encouragement.

Relational support is not optional—we need to provide these types of campfire breaks for our teams. They function almost as a relief valve for pressure. People need these network times to connect with each other, celebrate, commiserate, and re-energize. They need to feel a part of something larger than themselves, and they need to feel valued by and connected to their peers. Only with relational support, and with a clear sense of connection to their greater purpose, vision, call, and values, can people sustain life-long leadership.

Campfire questions:

  • What are others doing?
  • How can I learn from them?
  • What can I offer them?
  • How can we support each other?
  • What’s coming next?