“If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in your church will you meet with me for lunch to discuss these things and explore what we might do to change them?”

Significant works in the kingdom of God almost always begin in small, obscure ways.   John 17:23 Pastors' Groups began when five pastors, strangers to one another and from diverse Christian backgrounds, met together for lunch in the spring of 1992. Ernie was a Charismatic, Jim H. was a United Methodist, Jim A. was a lay pastor in the Gospel Outreach Movement birthed on the West Coast among the Hippies, Mike was a Foursquare pastor, and I was an evangelical Congregationalist. We had two things in common, a commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and a deep desire for more of Christ than we had experienced up to that time. By the time we finished lunch we had agreed to four significant things:

First, we would meet together every other Thursday morning, from 6:30-8:30 a.m., for the next nine months to get to really know each other, share our heartaches and struggles, read Scripture, and pray for one another and for revival in our churches.

Second, these meetings were to be the number one priority in our schedule. We agreed that we would allow nothing except family, pastoral emergencies, or illness to usurp them

Third, we would keep everything shared in the group in utter confidence, not even telling our wives, unless specific permission was granted. 

Fourth, no matter what might happen when we met, no matter how threatening it might become at times, we would not walk away from the others before the nine months were over and we had the opportunity to evaluate what had happened among us during those months.

When the day came to evaluate our experiment and answer the question of whether we would continue or disband, each said, "I must have this meeting in my life. Too much has begun to happen to me to let it go now." Our small support group had become a place where we found love and acceptance, security and encouragement, accountability and respect, freedom from pastoral competition and the liberty to celebrate our victories and accomplishments, and challenges to grow spiritually and pastorally. It had become more than we ever dreamed and prayed it would be.

“I in them and you in me. May they be bought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:23 NIV