How To Stay Friends In Ministry

I have 30 years of friendship between Scott (middle) and Tyler (left). 

I have 30 years of friendship between Scott (middle) and Tyler (left). 

I once heard a prominent ministry leader parrot something from the platform that bothered me:

"You can’t plant a church with your friends." 

He had a long list of reasons, many of which were rich with wisdom and right on point. Despite that fact, the sentence bothered me.

It bothered me then, because I was doing just that. Tami and I planted Redemption with our closest friends. It bothers me now because I think he was wrong. Not only CAN you plant a church with your friends, I believe more people SHOULD.

As someone who is seven years into church planting with two of my best friends (both of which are now on our paid staff), I think there is a better way to state the intended warning, while not throwing out the baby with the proverbial bath water. What I would say is:

Ministry has marred many friendships.

I don’t believe that means friends should not partner in gospel-ministry together, but I do believe we need to be sober-minded and labor to stay friends at the outset. Here are five things that have been key (albeit painful, at times) to seeing our friendships thrive on our staff...

1. Pray with and for one another.

Prayer with and for someone has a curious way of uniting your heart with theirs. It’s hard to be too put off with someone you’re praying with and for. When something that someone has said, or done is bothering you, pray for them. You may just find that God changes you more than them. 

2. Speak candidly when something is bothering you. 

Sin happens. Friends will sin against you and you will sin against your friends. This is when you need candid conversation. In my experience, it’s the words we leave unspoken that do more damage than the ones we do. Don’t be a jerk, but don’t be a coward either. After careful thought and prayer, say what’s on your mind.

3. Forgive when you inevitably sin against one another. 

It’s not enough to talk about sin, there needs to be regular repentance and forgiveness. When you harbor hurt, it degenerates into bitterness, and bitterness dishonors God and destroys the carrier. There is no longterm friendship without an immense amount of forgiveness. What are you holding on to? What do you need to let go of and forgive?

4. Be friends first and then co-laborers.

I’ve made the mistake of putting the friendship on the back burner in the name of ministry. Sometimes ministry has to take priority, but do this for too long, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s no friendship to protect. The health of the friendship directly informs the health of the ministry. Have fun. Hang out. Eat food. Play. Laugh. Live all of life together, not just ministry.

5. Accept them for who they are, not who you hope they’ll become.

We labor in ministry to see lives changed and eternities altered. One liability I’ve noticed in my own heart, however, is that I can love people more for who they’re becoming than who they are. That’s not how Jesus loves us and not how we should love others. We all need to grow and change, but if friendship is contingent on a set of behavior conditions, it’s really not friendship shaped by the gospel.

If you do the work of ministry with friends it will be hard, but it will also be more fulfilling, more rich and more meaningful. Should God allow, I highly recommend you jump into ministry with your friends.

I know I'm not the only one doing the work of ministry with friends. If you are, or have done it too, what are some best practices you've learned? Share your thoughts here.

In The Room Ep. 40: Kelly O’Dell Stanley

On this final episode of the summer, I’m in the room with artist and author Kelly O’Dell Stanley, who’s written a new book on prayer entitled “Praying Upside Down”.

In my conversation with Kelly, we discuss the pros and cons of growing up in various denominations within the church, the roll of creativity in prayer, and what it means to pray upside down.

Subscribe to In The Room on iTunes and get weekly episodes downloaded directly to your device! 

Buy “Praying Upside Down” on

Read Kelly’s Blog

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The book recommended by Kelly during the episode: "Found" by Micha Boyett 

In The Room Ep. 39: Elyse Fitzpatrick

On this episode I’m in the room with Elyse Fitzpatrick. Elyse is a counselor, speaker and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. She’s written twenty books, including “Found In Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ”.

In my conversation with Elyse, we discuss what type of ministry women need most, how to grow in our affection for theology, and how the doctrines of incarnation and union with Christ impact us day to day.  

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Buy “Found In Him” on

Read Elyse’s Blog

Follow Elyse on Twitter

In The Room Ep. 38: Edward Welch

On this episode, I’m in the room with Edward Welch. Ed is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He’s been counseling for over 35 years and has written a number of excellent books, including his most recent, “Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love”.

In my conversation with Ed, we discuss some of the reasons behind the rise in the number of people seeking counseling, what to look for in a good counselor, and some keys to living in interdependent community with others.   

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Buy “Side By Side” on

Visit CCEF’s website

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Check out CCEF’s Facebook page

In The Room Ep. 37: Nancy Ortberg

On this episode, I’m in the room with Nancy Ortberg. Nancy currently serves as the Director of Leadership Development at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Northern California. She’s a leading voice on the topic of leadership and has written a number of books. Her most recent is  “Seeing in the Dark: Finding God's Light in the Most Unexpected Places” and that’s what we’re discussing today.  

In my conversation with Nancy, we cover why God allows us to walk through dark seasons, how God means them to produce joy in our lives, and why it’s so crucial that we fight for faith in community.

Buy “Seeing In The Dark” on

Follow Nancy on Twitter

Books Nancy recommended in the episode:

Lament for a Son

A Grace Disguised

My Bright Abyss 

Subscribe to In The Room on iTunes and get weekly episodes downloaded directly to your device!

In The Room Ep. 36: Carl Trueman

On this episode, I’m in the room with Carl Trueman. Carl is the Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. He co-hosts the “Mortification of Spin” podcast and is the author of numerous books, including his most recent entitled “Luther on the Christian Life.”  

In my conversation with Carl, we discuss why church history matters, why we should all read biography, and what we have to learn as modern day Christians from the amazing life of Martin Luther. 

Buy “Luther on the Christian Life”

Listen to the “Mortification of Spin” podcast

Subscribe to In The Room on iTunes and get weekly episodes downloaded directly to your device!

In The Room Ep. 35: Cherie Lowe


On this episode, I’m in the room with Cherie Lowe. A few years back, Cherie and her husband woke up to realize they had accumulated almost $130,000 in debt. That realization sent them on a journey that resulted in her recent book “Slaying The Debt Dragon”. I’m happy to report that by God’s grace, they climbed out of that hole and now spend their lives helping others do the same. Cherie and her husband’s story has been shared in the Wall Street Journal and they’ve appeared on Yahoo Finance, and Relevant Magazine. Cherie now appears weekly as a savings expert on the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, IN.   

In my conversation with Cherie, we discuss the sometimes subtle ways debt happens, where to start slaying your own debt dragon, and some things to look out for in the process.  

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Buy “Slaying The Debt Dragon”

Follow Cherie on Twitter
Check out Cherie’s Blog

In The Room Ep. 34: Burk Parsons

On this episode, I’m in the room with Burk Parsons. He’s the co-pastor of St. Andrew’s Chapel with R.C. Sproul, an author, and the editor of Table Talk Magazine. 

In our conversation, we’re discussing what makes theology so divisive, how to hold to convictions without alienating others, and how he was almost a founding member of ’N Sync.

Subscribe to In The Room on iTunes and get weekly episodes downloaded directly to your device!

Follow Burk on Twitter

Buy “Why Do We Have Creeds?” and other books from Burk 

Subscribe to Table Talk Magazine

In The Room Ep. 33: Lore Ferguson

On this episode I’m in the room with Lore Ferguson. Lore is an avid blogger at and a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition and Christianity Today.

In our conversation we’re discussing her writing process, why she limits the number of people she follows on twitter, and how she goes about writing on topics she’s knows are sensitive to many.

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Read Lore’s blog at

In The Room Ep.32: Jared Brock

On this episode, I’m in the room with Jared Brock. Jared is a documentary film maker, an author, and the co-founder of “Hope for the Sold” - an abolitionist non-profit organization fighting sex trafficking. 

While filming in the red light districts of Amsterdam, Jared was reminded of our deep need for prayer. This reminder resulted in a 37,000 mile prayer pilgrimage around the globe. His new book, “A Year Of Living Prayerfully” is a travel memoir documenting this journey.   

In my conversation with Jared, we discuss the reasons prayer runs dry in our lives, how ministry leaders can help fuel the fire of prayer in their own lives and the lives of those they lead, and how in the world Jared ended up meeting the pope on this journey. 

Buy “A Year Of Living Prayerfully”.

Follow Jared on Twitter.

Check out the Red Light Green Light Film.

Find out more about “Hope For the Sold."

Check out Jared’s Blog.

In The Room Ep.31: Jen Wilkin

On this episode, I’m in the room with Jen Wilkin. Jen is a married mother of four and spends a good deal of time trying to further one of her great passions, which is helping women learn to love God with their minds through faithful study of His word. As a result, she is a sought-after Bible teacher and has recently written an excellent book entitled, “Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.” She and her family live in Texas and are members of The Village Church where Matt Chandler is pastor, who has also been on the podcast. 

In my conversation with Jen, we’re discussing the epidemic of Biblical illiteracy, the method she uses to help people learn to study the Bible for themselves, as well as a few issues surrounding women’s ministry.

For a chance to win a free copy of Women of the Wordfrom Crossway Books, share this weeks give away phrase on Twitter:

"Have you checked out #InTheRoom with @RyanHuguley #podcast? Subscribe on @iTunes and win free books:"

LISTEN and SUBSCRIBE to In The Room on iTunes.

Buy “Women Of The Word”

Follow Jen on Twitter

Check out Jen’s Blog

In The Room Ep. 30: Collin Hansen

On this episode, I’m in the room with Collin Hansen. He’s the editorial director for The Gospel Coalition and the author of a new book called “Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate and Commissioned Church". 

In our conversation, we’re discussing the blind spots common to all Christians, whether or not our convictions are shaped by personal experience, and how we can get better at listening to those we differ from. 

To enter to win a free copy of Blind Spots simply tweet the following from your Twitter account and Friday we'll choose one winner at random:

"What are your blind spots? Listen to @CollinHansen discuss on this weeks #InTheRoom w/@RyanHuguley -" 

Buy Blind Spots on Amazon.

Follow Collin on Twitter.
Check out Collin’s work at The Gospel Coalition.

Connor's Story of Grace

Periodically at Redemption we run what we call a "Story of Grace" during our worship service. They're testimonial videos of people in our church talking about how God has been faithful to them and shown them His grace.

This is Connor's story. He's been a member of our church since almost the beginning and plays drums for us on the weekends. He's a blessing and has a great story. I hope you'll take a few minutes and be reminded that we were serve a faithful God.

In The Room Ep.29: Gloria Furman

This week I’m in the room with Gloria Furman. She and her husband Dave are church planters in Dubai and she’s written an excellent new book called The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love. 

In our conversation we’re discussing the challenges of being a pastor’s wife in a foreign context, the dangers of comparing yourself to others, and some of the difficulties surrounding this unique roll.

You can win a free copy of Gloria's new book by posting the giveaway phrase to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Make sure if you're entering on Facebook that you tag me, so I can enter your name.

Giveaway Phrase:

"Listen to @GloriaFurman share the challenges of being a pastor's wife on #InTheRoom w/@RyanHuguley -"

Buy The Pastor’s Wife on Amazon.

Follow Gloria on Twitter.

Check out Gloria’s blog.

In The Room Ep.28: Stephen Miller

This week I’m in the room with Stephen Miller. He’s the worship pastor at Real Life Church in Austin, TX. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Stephen is a songwriter, coach and author. He has a brand new album out this week titled, Liberating King.

In our conversation, we’re discussing how to cultivate relationships when leading artists, how to foster the relationship between the worship leaders and lead pastors, and how this new project, Liberating King, came together. 



Win a free copy of Liberating King:

Post the album image and the giveaway phrase to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Make sure you tag me, so we can pick three winners on Friday. Enter as many times as you'd like.

Giveaway Phrase:

Check out @StephenMiller on #InTheRoom with @RyanHuguley. LISTEN:

Buy Liberating King on iTunes.

Follow Stephen on Twitter.

Subscribe on iTunes and have new episodes downloaded directly to your device. 

In The Room Ep.27: Jeff Vanderstelt

This week I’m in the room with Jeff Vanderstelt. Jeff is the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and the teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue Washington. He’s written a new book called “Saturate: Being disciples of Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.” 

In our conversation we’re discussing the diversity of his ministry background, how he and his team have transitioned what was Mars Hill Bellevue to Doxa Church, and how to make disciples through missional communities. 

If you'd like to receive new episodes of In The Room delivered strait to your device each week, head over and subscribe on iTunes

Buy Saturate on Amazon.

Follow Jeff on Twitter.

"Kept For Jesus" Giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of Crossway, each time I have a conversation with one of their authors I get to give away one of their books. This week I talked with Sam Storms about his new book "Kept For Jesus: What The New Testament Really Teaches About Assurance Of Salvation And Eternal Security." 

To enter to win a free copy of this great book simply tweet: 

"Check out the latest episode of #InTheRoom Podcast w/@ryanhuguley."

Tomorrow I'll choose one person at random and then send your name and address to Crossway so they can ship you the book. Easy enough?

Let's go!




In The Room Ep.26: Sam Storms

This week I’m in the room with Sam Storms. He serves as the Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, OK. He serves on the Board of Directors for both Desiring God and Bethlehem College and Seminary. He’s authored dozens of books, one of the most recent being, “Kept For Jesus: What the New Testament Really Teaches About Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security.” 

In our conversation, we discuss common factors in ministry burnout, why he doesn’t have a devotional life like you may expect, and whether or not Christians can lose their salvation.

Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE on iTunes and leave a review if you enjoy the podcast!

Buy Kept For Jesus on Amazon.

Follow Sam Storms on Twitter.

Check out Sam's website.

In The Room Ep.25: Larry Osborne

This week I’m in the room with Larry Osbourne. He’s been the pastor of Northcoast Church in San Deigo, CA for 35 years. He’s also the author of a number of insightful books, including his most recent, “Thriving In Babylon: Why hope, humility, and wisdon matter in a Godless culture.”

In our conversation we discuss the difference between information and insight, why so many Christians have such a gloom and doom attitude, and how God’s people can thrive in a Godless world.

If you enjoy the podcast, don't forget to SUBSCRIBE on iTunes and leave a review!

Buy Thriving In Babylon on Amazon.

Follow Larry on Twitter.

Check out Larry’s website.