If you are gripped by what the Bible offers, then you will probably preach about the wonder of true Christian fellowship as it should be as one of your recurring themes. But a church is typically a very mixed group of people, including those seemingly not gripped by the same vision. And preaching can be a very lonely ministry. This seems to suggest there might be a problem for preachers.
Last night the ministry I am involved in had its final “graduation” meal together. (Cor Deo is online here.) The ten men who have been shoulder to shoulder for the past six months won’t gather in that way after today. We have delighted in God together, and therefore have found our fellowship to be true, deep and satisfying too. I suspect that we will not lose the taste for good fellowship with like-minded responders to God and will go out of our way to look for it in the next season of life. But some preachers seem to have never had the taster, and so preaching can be such a lonely experience.
Some preachers look within their church for this kind of fellowship. Perhaps a colleague or two in the formal ministry functions of the church, or perhaps others from the congregation. Often the challenge is for this not to become a church ministry focused relationship since there is always so much to discuss. Or for it to be restricted by what cannot be discussed. Somehow those in leadership often feel the need to be less than real due to some perceived image that must be maintained.
Some preachers look outside their church for this kind of fellowship. Perhaps a pastor of another church, or a person in a similar situation as far as ministry involvement. Maybe it is a friend who is safe to share with and offer a more unrestricted vulnerability.
Whether the person is in the church, or in another, is not the issue. What matters is that we don’t do ministry alone. We need true fellowship. That means standing shoulder to shoulder with others who share our delight in God, pursuing Him together and enjoying Him together. If our hearts are not gripped by the glorious grace of our God, then how can we truly serve the church as preachers of His Word? And as my youth leader used to say regularly – a burning coal removed from close contact with others will soon grow cool and lose the glow.