The 2nd of April, some pastors from across the region met in Hulett, WY at Frist Baptist Church. They try to meet twice a year. When I pastored in South Dakota, I had the privilege of being a part of this fellowship. Even though it has changed over the years (I left in 1990 to pastor in Walla Walla, WA), it is still a good group of churches from North and South Dakota and eastern Montana and eastern Wyoming.
This year, I was invited to speak in the evening sessions Monday through Wednesday. I was able to see men with whom I had worked years ago. They still faithfully carry the gospel to the people in their communities. It was exciting to see how God has blessed the fellowship through the years. They focused on the sound teaching of the Word of God. The discussion times were not heated debates but careful considerations of passages and doctrines. Each treated the other with respect and dignity. Sometimes there were areas of small differences. But that was okay. One may cross the “t” from the left and another from the right. The “t” still gets crossed.
I left the meetings with great joy in my heart knowing the churches have pastors who love the Lord and are students of His Word. I had come to the meetings wanting to be an encouragement. I came away being encouraged. It is nice to know there are groups of men who love the Lord and each other. It is great to see each one respected for how God is working through them.
Is it good to come together? Do pastors really need fellowship? Yes they do. Sometimes they may be wrestling with a doctrinal issue or a point of view. It is nice to share with others and to hear how God has taught them over the years. These can also be times of challenge when we are researching new perspective of doctrine. It is a place when done correctly where a pastor can say with others, “I was wondering about.…? Whatever the issue, they can find a respectable answer even if you are way off base. You hear responses like, “Have you considered this…?” or “How does that work in light of this verse?” It is a time and place where men openly discuss doctrine and issues. I want to hear from men I love and respect if I missed something in my thinking.
Fellowship for pastors is important. Open discussion is essential to deepening our thinking. We settle for less in our church family because we settle for less in our selves. We should continually be in the Word and growing. Never being challenged to greater understanding is to not grow. The first sentence in Hebrews has God for the subject and hath spoken for the verb. If God has spoken, what did He say? It is there for us to know.
Thank you to the pastors of the Northern Plains for allowing me to be a part of what God is doing in you, and through you. God used you to encourage me.