I have always enjoyed the company of fellow pastors. Coming together for fellowship, sharing a meal, swapping stories, and encouraging one other has a therapeutic effect. Even though we are individually different in personality, gifts and style, we share the common bond of being the under shepherd of a local flock of believers.
For the past several years, a number of pastors from our local association of Baptist churches have gotten together for a monthly lunch. It is usually a time of good food, funny stories, good natured ribbing, and general R & R. I look forward to it each month.
However, over the past 5 or 6 weeks, a new dimension has been added to our relationship.
A couple of months ago, one of our younger pastors privately shared with me a great burden for the spiritual strength of our brethren. He was looking for something more than "just a time of lunch and fellowship". I agreed that I needed that, myself, and we decided to invite our fellow Baptist pastors to come together for a time of serious prayer and sharing. We determined that it should not be a "programmed" kind of thing, nor that is should be a publicized "event". The word went out through our association office, inviting any interested pastor to attend, and a new fellowship was born, meeting at 1:00 on Thursday afternoons.
To date, eight pastors have regularly been in attendance. Now, some of our pastors are bi- vocational, and are simply not able to attend a daytime prayer meeting. A couple of them serve churches that are an hour or two away, and it is very difficult for them to come to Huntington for a sixty minute get together. Perhaps they may be so inclined to schedule a prayer time for pastors in their geographical areas, or those who are on the same work schedule, but that would be their own choice. Those of us who have chosen to attend these Thursday prayer meetings have been blessed and encouraged through our time together, being united in prayer.
By the very nature of our jobs, other ministry responsibilities might keep one or two of us away from time to time, but the eight of us who have been attending are building a stronger bond between us, than we have ever had before. The ones who are taking part have consciously chosen to be there, and no one is "in charge". We share scripture, we do a little singing, and we pray - a lot. It has become one of the most important hours of the week to me. I am experiencing true refreshing, and these moments of corporate prayer with my brothers have helped strengthen me in some of my own personal struggles.
I pray that this sense of revival and awakening will spread from the pulpit to the pews of our respective churches. I would love to see more of our evangelical pastors (not necessarily just Baptists) join this fellowship. It would be great to see the number grow to the point where we would have to find a larger place to meet. But no matter what the number of participants may be, the purpose will remain the same, and God will continue to meet with us as long as that is our desire.