One of the questions that a new pastor has to wrestle with is the nature of relationships they will have within their congregation. Can you be friends with people in the congregation? With leaders/elders/deacons/board members? With other pastoral staff?
During one ministry placement when I was in seminary, I had some friends come to the church where I was doing youth work. The pastor pulled me aside and asked me to end those friendships because once they started attending, they were now inappropriate relationships. At another church, not only did the pastor have friends within the congregation, they actually went to their friends for spiritual care.
There are people on all sides of the issue who have very strong feelings. I can only share my opinion.
I think that pastors are isolated enough that it is unhealthy to deny friendships. In certain contexts, people within the congregation may be the only people available for friends.
There are also times when friendships just develop naturally. There are people who have the same interests and values. Being around them makes you a better person and they spur you on to a deeper relationship with God. Such friendships should not be avoided.
Having said that, having friends within the congregation must be done with care. A pastor can not let their friends dominate their time during church events. When it comes to ministry time, everyone should have equal access to the pastor, not just the friends. Pastors should be watching and listening to how friendships are affecting the ministry within the church.
I also think that friendships are good within pastoral teams. I don’t mean just between the different associate pastors, but with lead pastors as well. Yes some hard decisions or situations may affect the friendship but those dangers are there in any relationship.
Not every pastor will agree with me and I am fine with that. For some pastors it just doesn’t work. For the others, enjoy those friendships.