To be an effective preacher you need to love your local church. It is not enough to love the church in general. Even if your ministry takes you to other places, still it is healthy to love your local church. (I know that it is not our church or my church, it is Christ’s, but let’s go with this terminology for the sake of this post.)
It is the people in your own local church who know you, who pray for you, who know your family and care for them. It is the people in your own local church who will sense when something is not right in your life. It is these people who will speak the truth to you, even when you don’t want to hear it.
Of course, there are complexities. The local church can become an antagonistic environment. It can become both a source and a threat to your livelihood. Receiving a salary from your local church means that you can be fired, or opposed, or any number of other challenges. Nevertheless, it is important to love your local church.
It is not enough to love the church in general. It is unwise and ungodly to love the income, the respect you get, or the power you develop. It is possible to use your local church position to get power or respect both within that church, and more widely. We have to be wary of using the church instead of loving it.
So we need to love our local church. Why? Because God loves it. This is the local expression of the Bride of Christ and God is at work there. This is the local gathering of believers that need not only your gifting, your time, your contibutions and your energy, they also and preeminently need your love. You can work fifty or sixty hours per week, preach and lead multiple meetings, visit people in their homes or in the hospital, give of your time, gifting and energy, but if you do not have love you have nothing.
Maybe it is really obvious. Or maybe this has become your greatest challenge in ministry. Maybe you are feeling loved and encouraged, or maybe you are feeling beaten up and ready to quit. Whatever the circumstance, it is vital to look to Christ and to love your local church.