When Ben Hartnell from Westside Community Church first called a bunch of pastors together, he actually had no agenda. That’s surprising because we pastors usually have some kind of an agenda. He just said, “I think it would be good to just pray together. That’s it.” I’ll admit I was a little nervous when I first showed up to our first meeting. Forced unity can be almost as awkward as no unity. I didn’t know if the other pastors would have an agenda. I didn’t know if it this gathering would truly be “safe” to be myself or if I’d have to do what you often have to do around other pastors – present the public version of yourself. I didn’t know if I really had time to commit to unity and prayer with other pastors. An ugly admission I know but an accurate one nonetheless.
You know what I loved? Our conversation did not start with “how many people go to your church?” I’m pretty sure that topic didn’t come up because, when it came to that metric, none of us had anything particularly big to brag about. So we just started with “tell us how you are doing as a normal person, not as a pastor, but as a man, husband, father – just a human being.” We spent time telling the honest stories of our lives and what was happening in the challenges, and victories, of our church missions. I fell in love with Chuckk Gerwig’s rugged honesty, Michael Howard’s straightforward truthfulness, Danny Bennett’s compassion, and Ben Hartnell’s quiet thoughtfulness. I began to find that I could tell my own story to these guys and pray with them and for them. The coolest things begin with love . . .