fellowship is presented as the norm of Christian living. It is a concept that we
have all heard of, but do not always understand. Fellowship is not a two
dimensional relationship but a three dimensional one which also incorporates our
relationship with God. Indeed fellowship without the active participation of God
is friendship. Friendship is fine and good but is only part of what fellowship
material in this chapter is closely related to that of chapter 10 which talked
about the Christian church. The church is in one sense of meaning our corporate
fellowship with God. In this chapter we will look at the relationship of
individual believers with each other. The first section covers your personal
fellowship habits and the second section addresses small groups organized for
the purpose of Bible study and fellowship.
133:1Ė3 talks about fellowship and shows us that the fellowship that we, as
Christians, have is a special gift. We need to remember that it is a privilege
to be with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a gift from God
given to us by Christ through the ministry of the Spirit.
are now living in a state of relative spiritual peace. However, when Christ was
ministering to us He was surrounded by His enemies. Think of how different life
would be if we were unable to be public Christians. The last few years have seen
tremendous opportunities worldwide for Christian fellowship without persecution.
The privileges of fellowship we now have are part of what Christ died for.
133:1Ė3 A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when brothers
live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down
on the beard, running down on Aaronís beard, down upon the collar of his
robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the
LORD bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.
this blessing to be active in our life, several conditions need to be met. The
first is that if we expect to have Christian fellowship, we must meet other
Christians. To do this, we must seek them out. This means that we must be a
visible and public Christian.
should not limit our search for fellowship to Sunday mornings, but rather think
of it during the whole week. If no one at our plant, office, school, or
neighborhood knows that we are a believer, how can they fellowship with us? We
will have limited ourselves to one day of fellowship per week.
different the world becomes for us when we are sharing it with a brother or
sister. This aspect of fellowship gives us many opportunities for giving and
receiving. It can also expose new areas of our life and work to prayer and
Christian obedience. This begins to happen naturally as we become accountable to
each other and Christ.
second point to consider is that not all fellowship opportunities will develop
into long term relationships. Many will be a brief meeting. Fellowship may occur
on a plane, waiting to be seated at a restaurant, indeed anywhere there is
another Christian. In the same way that we can limit our fellowship
opportunities by only looking on Sunday, we can also limit fellowship
opportunities in other ways. If we have a laundry list of conditions that must
be met before fellowship can occur we will be limiting Godís ability to bless
us and others.
people find it helpful to wear a pin or other symbol that identifies you as a
believer. This can help break the ice when introducing yourself. It all gets
back to the fact that a ďvisibleĒ Christian will have more fellowship
opportunities. Both God, and Godís people can be found everywhere.
we are taking concrete steps to meet other Christians what do we do with them?
Well what do Christians do? Look at the passage below.
2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were
added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching
and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Letís dissect
meet together to share spiritual truths. They are prepared in heart and mind to
be a blessing and to be blessed. Fellowship, like most other things in life is
enhanced if we are prepared for it. We would not expect to have a good day
sailing on the lake unless we have learned how to sail a boat. In the same way
we should not expect to have good fellowship unless we are prepared for it. Be
prepared to be a blessing to someone by being grounded in Godís word. For
example have a spiritual blessing to share, what has Christ shown you today.
Share something from the time that you have spent in Scripture and prayer today.
Let the time you spent with God bless two people instead of just one. Then you
can devote yourself to the teaching and living of Godís way.
meet together to be friends. We are not pure spiritual beings. We have a human,
physical, need to be with other people. Do things with other Christians, such
as, play some ball, pound some nails, perhaps even do some shopping! Quality
Christian fellowship can often happen around non-spiritual activities. Donít
be afraid to have some fun. Having a good time while being good is part of
Godís plan for you. It is not at all a bad thing to have fun.
if your Christian walk is one of woe and misery, you probably have more of a
spiritual problem than a fleshly problem. The disciples and Jesus participated
in life. They were not wall flowers. See John 1:2; Matthew 9:10, 14Ė15; Luke
with the passage from Acts 2, we see that Christians eat together. Now this
sounds kind of simple and boring but Jesus didnít think so. Scan a Gospel for
references to food, drink, and eating. I think you will be surprised at how many
of them there are.
who made us, has given us a dual nature, physical and spiritual. Eating together
with other believers helps us to be whole because it ministers to the body and
spirit. From a practical standpoint it is also another daily event to bring the
Lord into. When we eat, we can establish a linking pattern or habit of spiritual
activity in something we will not forget to do (that is eat). Use meals, as well
as other recurring events to build in spiritual opportunities. Praying before
your restaurant meal is also another way of being a visible Christian, although
we aim much higher than a before meal prayer for the fellowship of believers
with Christ and each other.
brings us to the last item we are looking at in Acts 2. Christians pray
together. Be open for prayer opportunities. Prayer brings in another player. The
fellowship is now three way, between two (or more) people and the Lord. Matthew
18:20 says ďFor where two or three come together in my name, there am I with
we meet together we also need to know each other well enough so that we can pray
for each other effectively. This means being honest and open about our triumphs
and failures. It means being open to the opportunity, as well as the
vulnerability, needed to pray with each other. Christ also made himself
vulnerable, even to death, for our privilege to fellowship with Him.
writing in 1 John 1:3 states that one of the purposes of their (the Apostles)
ministry is that we have fellowship with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ,
and also with them. To be faithful to the teachings of the Bible we need to be
in a state of Christian fellowship.
John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may
have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son,
Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
passage below from Philippians sheds more light on the responsibilities we have
when in fellowship. When we consider that fellowship is a divine, and not a
human, activity we look at it in a new way.
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort
from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and
compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same
love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or
vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of
you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of
tenderness, compassion, like minded, love, one in spirit, nothing out of vain
conceit or selfish ambition, humility, interests of others, this one passage has
a shopping list of spiritual fellowship dos and doníts. We do well to remember
them as we meet together. Fellowship needs to be kept pure, for it to be a
reflection of His kingdom to come. See also 1 Thessalonians 4:9Ė10, 1
Corinthians 13:13, 1 Peter 4:8Ė9, 1 Peter 1:22.
lastly, be courageous enough to love extravagantly. Love as if you have an
endless supply and you can get more whenever you need it, for this is indeed the
case. Love does truly conquer all. People truly will know that we are Christians
by our love. Good Christian love allows us to see not with our eyes, but with
our heart. Be brave (86) enough to love first and you will find wonderful people
all around you every day.
focus of this section of the chapter is on groups that are organized with the
intent of fostering individual and group fellowship. God instructs us to meet
together in order to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews
10:24Ė25). This will be a stated purpose of the group, and not a byproduct or
auxiliary function. Ideally the group will have five to twenty people in it.
of the same items that we looked at above come into play for a fellowship group.
In addition to the ideas above the group needs to have leadership, common
purpose, and an awareness of the dynamics of a group. The following pages
present a lot of information and it is sometimes difficult to arrange it.
However, I am concentrating on practical information and not style so I beg your
start by looking at how to help a fellowship group stay A L I V E.
fellowship group (A)dores God (L)istens to Godís Word (I)nvites others in (V)alues
its members (E)valuates itself
GOD. How is a group to adore God? The two primary ways are through worship and
groups should worship together because Christians are made to worship. Worship
helps to get things into a proper perspective. (See Psalm 73.) Worship unites
the people of God around their God.
is also refreshing to groups and individuals. It sets our hearts on a different
plain for a time that will make it easier to concentrate on spiritual matters.
study can be mere academics if we have no response to what we hear. Worshiping
God together reminds us of our need to be obedient. We worship God because He is
deserving of it. It lets us remember who the real leader of any Christian
TO GODíS WORD. Living groups need the living Word. I believe that the
foundation of any organized fellowship or kinship group should be Bible study.
It is important to establish this early on when a group is beginning. How we
treat the Scripture that we learn is also important. Room needs to be left for
variation in interpretation and application of Scripture. However a group that
does not agree that the Bible is the Word of God will not prosper.
of the group need to have open hearts and minds when they study Godís word.
Scripture holds a place of importance in our lives. When we study, we need to
look for application and conviction personally and as a group. Allow the group
and its members to be changed by what they learn. Leaders also need to allow for
growth, and for the fact that the Spirit gifts many people with insight into the
meaning of Godís Word.
OTHERS IN. This feature is part of any group. The movement of individuals and
couples into and out of a group is normal. Several things can cause this to
happen. Obviously the group will not always do the same things, or study the
same topic forever. As the content of the meeting changes it will move closer to
some members needs and perhaps away from others members ideal.
members schedules, addresses, and even levels of commitment to Christ will also
change as time passes. This will inevitably lead to people leaving the
fellowship. A group should miss, and be saddened by the loss of members.
However, it is a normal part of the dynamics of a group and does not mean it is
others in is of course very important. New people bring new ideas and new
opportunities for growth. The members of a group need to focus on friendliness
when someone new attends. It will take a special effort to do this, but it
usually comes naturally. A healthy fellowship will want to be successful and
it is important to have opportunities for new people to join, there are times
when the intimacy of established relationships is needed. When this occurs it is
all right to close the group for a time. This will allow all energies to be
focused on a particular need. If the group is to be closed for a time it needs
to be for a reason that will legitimately require it to be closed. Also this
should be communicated to all who wish to join. Donít pick and choose who can
join. Our exclusiveness is bestowed by our Sovereign not ourselves.
ITS MEMBERS. Romans 12:4Ė5 says Just as each of us has one body with many
members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we
who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. The
passage could have continued as follows. Some are given to speak, others to
listen, some are given to laughter, others to contemplation, some are called to
sing, and others to make a joyful noise (Romans 12:10, John 15:17, John
Bible study-fellowship group has no place for poking fun at others, or for
slighting their opinions or ideas. The group does not gossip, or ďshareĒ
items that are not appropriate about others. We also recognize that we are all
learning as we walk with the Lord day by day.
of valuing each other has to do with opportunities for service and recognition.
A fellowship group can be a wonderful place to discover your spiritual and other
gifts. A good group will encourage its members to risk trying something they
havenít done before.
following outline offers some guidelines for valuing group members.
Each one needs to be accepted A. Make each person welcome B. Check up on
absentees C. Fight against cliques.
Each one needs to serve A. Encourage participation in group worship and prayer
B. Look for things that people can do.
Each one needs to be considered A. When the group defines its purposes B. When a
group decides what projects to undertake C. When the group makes decisions
affecting the life of the group.
Each one needs to be encouraged A. To use his/her spiritual gift B. By having
prayer requests taken seriously
a member who misses a meeting will be called by the leader and others. Everyone
matters in a group and we miss anyone who isnít present. This will also give
opportunities for encouragement and service if there is a problem or obstacle to
ITSELF. While the focus of the group is upward, it is still healthy to take a
look inward now and then. Look at establishing goals, and informally measuring
the common progress in meeting them. Some groups establish a covenant which
lists the expectations of the group. The expectations should look two ways. The
group needs to know what it is expected of the leader, the content, and the
opportunities for growth. At the same time the individual needs to know what is
expected on him.
he need to be there at a certain time? How often is it OK to miss? Does he need
to be prepared in some way? Will he be expected to take a turn in leadership, or
as a host? It is best if these and other questions are discussed before they are
a problem rather than after.
leader of the group has an important job. The following list contains some of
the skills that are important to be a successful leader. The list is not
exhaustive but will help as an evaluation tool.
designated leader of a small group needs to be able to . . . 1. Listen 2. Ask
questions 3. Get participation in discussions 4. Apply knowledge of small group
dynamics 5. Communicate care, warmth, and encouragement 6. Be open with others
7. Involve others in the life of the group 8. Help solve problems 9. Plan and
follow a plan 10. Develop future leaders.
leader should also have a walk with the Lord that is worthy of emulation. He (or
she) should model the expectations of the group. A good leader will encourage
members to come and be involved. A good leader will foster informal leaders. A
good leader will not hold back information to seem smarter, or more
ďspiritualĒ. He will be expecting Godís and his best for the members every
week. (Colossians 4:2Ė6)
Individually, and as a group, Christians are directed to share the good news, so
it is healthy and proper for the group to have an outreach. This does not just
mean recruiting members for the group, but souls for Christ. Pray together for
Godís leading in this area. This is also yet another way to develop the
membersí spiritual gifts.
The group also needs to be a blessing to itself. Some areas, and ideas are in
the list below.
to children during regular meetings
on one time with each other
is a list of eight aspects of group anatomy. With each one is listed its
importance to the group. These aspects can be used to diagnose problems if they
exist and to enrich healthy groups.
Provides cohesion; Provides motivation; Provides a means for evaluation.
Essential for fulfilling purpose; Essential for Christian witness; Essential for
Contributes to individuals sense of feeling accepted; Contributes to
accomplishing the group task; Contributes to helping the group be unified
;Contributes to group growth; Contributes to communication
(Cannot be controlled). Affects cohesion of group; Affects cliques and
subgroups; Affects perspective; Affects richness of groups resources; Affects
Necessary for task fulfillment; Necessary for utilizing resources; Necessary for
developing cohesion; Necessary for handling problems
Important for task fulfillment; Important for climate; Important for
cohesiveness; Important for group communication
Essential for communication; Essential for climate; Essential for cohesiveness;
Essential for Spiritís ministry
Important for fulfilling groups task; Important for group life
few of the things that you do in life will be the blessing for you and others
that being a participating member in a fellowship group can be. If you are not a
member of a group, find one. If you are be thankful, now look for ways to enrich
your group and your benefits to and from it.