Friends can help form your ministry team. Sometimes the best working relationships are also the most personal. One of God’s kindnesses is to provide ministry partners, or co-laborers, who become true friends.
Here are several ways friends can contribute to your ministry.
Friends help you think of what’s missing. One benefit of having a team around you is that others will think of ministry opportunities that might escape you. There could even be ways to expand what you want to do, but you may not recognize the potential until someone close to you points it out. The perspective other people bring to your work will usually be of great value.
Friends make great prayer partners. People who have prayed with and for me have deeply influenced me spiritually. One special couple, Bob and Armené Humber, are prayer partners to this day. Their two children are about our kids’ ages, and we tracked with them all through our kids’ growing up.
Friends bring the sizzle. One of my friends named Hap had a favorite phrase—“Where’s the sizzle?” Through it he taught me that in launching a program, whether in ministry or a business, it must offer some sparkle. There has to be sizzle, something that makes people want what you are providing. If I ever became lax on the point, Hap was always there to ask, “Where’s the sizzle?” Friends make it a habit to challenge you to do better.
Friends share wisdom and expertise. Several businessmen had a great impact on me. Fred Rupp was a steel executive who moved from Illinois to California to retire. Fred was the church treasurer who made our church financial plans look more like budgets than sermon outlines.
Friends expand your ministry. From the early days of my pastorate, John had been finding ways to expand our ministry. “George,” he told me, “your teaching needs to be recorded.” John not only taped my sermons, but he kept a complete archive of the 16 years I served as his pastor. Then he digitized the entire collection, a process requiring endless hours. By doing so, he and his wife, Eileen, dramatically expanded the reach of my ministry.
Friends can give. I am hesitant about taking large gifts from parishioners. But one day friends approached me and said the Lord told them to give me money to buy a computer and printer. I waited a month, and they insisted again. When I relented, the investment changed my life. It helped me immeasurably in ministry, writing, and correspondence—and made me realize that I need to keep up with trends in culture and utilize things like Facebook and Twitter.
Friends come and go. And that’s okay. God knows who you need alongside to carry out His purposes, and there will likely be an ebb and flow of the people He brings into your life and ministry. With the changes that come your way will come the co-laborers most suited to the needs of the moment.
Your best friend is your best ministry partner. If you’re married and in full-time ministry, your spouse is the best 24/7 co-laborer you’ll ever have. Whether your God-given, permanent helper works in the church or not, your life at home has an impact on your life at church. The support you get in managing the house, children, finances, food, and family time makes ministry itself more manageable.