Fellowship Matters

Fellowship Matters

“Mom, Don’t Talk to Anyone!”

Our family has a frequent conversation about fellowship on the way to church, and I’m wondering if anyone else can relate:
“Okay, Mom. You know the plan:

  • Go immediately to the car after church.
  • Do not go to the Fellowship Hall.
  • Don’t say hello at anyone.
  • Don’t even look at anyone on your way out.”

“Why not?” “You know why not, mom. Because otherwise, you end up talking to someone FOREVER.”

My kids and their incredibly-busy Sunday afternoon social calendars would rather that church end with the benediction. They would prefer to grab their cookie (because they will always take time to grab a cookie) and be on their insular way. And if I’m honest, the path into the Fellowship Hall is not necessarily an easy one for me. I love people, but as an introvert sometimes the idea of “fellowship” feels like work. Some days it feels easier and more comfortable to quietly make my way right back to the car after church.

“I love people, but as an introvert sometimes the idea of “fellowship” feels like work.
Some days it feels easier and more comfortable to quietly make my way right back to the car after church.

Conversations Nurture Relationships

What my kids don’t understand yet though, is the profound life-giving effect and spiritual purpose these “FOREVER-long” conversations with my church family have had, and continue to have in our lives.  They have not lived long enough to understand how these conversations turn slowly over time into relationships, and how these relationships become fellowship that enriches every other aspect of our lives.  They don’t yet understand that while our relationship with God is personal, the fruit of that divine relationship is lived out in community.

Fellowship in the Early Church

The early church understood the importance of fellowship as part of living out an active faith. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Fellowship is listed among preaching, communion, and prayer as one of the essential practices to which the early church devoted themselves.  “Fellowship” was not simply being a passive member of a community; rather, these early believers actively engaged in supporting one another.

Fellowship Isn’t Just for Sundays

Like all the other aspects of a Christian faith, fellowship is not reserved for Sunday morning; fellowship happens all the time as we invite others to do life with us, as we walk out our Christian faith side by side. In fact, the Message Bible translates “the fellowship” in Acts 2:42 as “the life together.” The Christian English Version expresses it this way: “they were like family to each other.” This opportunity to do life with others is a profound blessing to share Christ’s love in our daily lives in the most practical of ways.

Fellowship Builds Community

Although this all-encompassing notion of fellowship is biblical, I didn’t learn that truth from reading the Bible. I’ve experienced this truth from within the community of believers that surround our family. I watch others serve in simple ways that matter the most.  I see friends who give up time in their day to sit with another receiving cancer treatments, just to lighten the heavy load of illness; fellowship shares a burden. Church members rally around those called to a new, unknown adventure, showing up to help load a moving van; fellowship fortifies against fear. I have been the new mom invited to a pool-side picnic at the swimming pool, so my kids (and I) would recognize a familiar face on a Sunday morning; fellowship thwarts loneliness.

“Fellowship shares a burden, fortifies against fear, and thwarts loneliness

Where Do I Start?

Fellowship begins when we are willing to open a door – no matter how small – into our lives for someone else to walk through. What are some first steps we can take to do life together as we live out our Christian faith?

  1. Smile at someone new.
  2. Make a point to say hello and shake the hand of someone you don’t know.
  3. Ask someone to sit down for coffee and ask them about their life. Be willing to start to share about yours.
  4. Invite an individual, couple, or family to have dinner at your house. (It doesn’t have to be fancy!)
  5. If you are not outgoing and all of these make you uncomfortable, do one anyway!

Our Faith Lived Out

The act of fellowship is one worthy of devotion and involves more than coffee and cookies on Sunday. But conversations over coffee and cookies on Sunday is a great place to start!  Our faith is lived out within community and God invites us to practice the art of loving others as He has first loved us when we open the door to doing life with one another.

“Our faith is lived out within community and God invites us to practice the art of loving others as He has first loved us when we open the door to doing life with one another.

Elise Knobloch

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