That’s the question I hear most of the time among Evangelicals, Protestants and several others who place more emphasis on fellowship as an activity, rather than a reality.
It’s a usual thing these days to think of “fellowship” as the programmes we organise every Sunday morning, Wednesday night and Friday night, without really touching the reality of life that Father wants to flow among us. While there are people who relax with the status quo of fellowship as an activity, rather than a life, relationship we share together, I believe there are believers discovering the actual possibility of true friendships unfolding when we have our focus on Jesus, and this most of the time, has to be intentional.
Two Dictionary Meanings of “Fellowship”
I enjoy these definitions of fellowship found in the dictionary:
- A company of people that shares the same interest or aim.
- A feeling of friendship, relatedness or connection between people.
More like a presentation of an organised system, the first definition about a “group of people” sharing the same interest or aim, defining fellowship as a group. Thus, we have this same mentality among us that just because we attend the same group meeting, we are participating in fellowship. All that said, we could, if it’s more focused on how we relate to one another, and less a planned agenda to do it the same way, same place, without placing any emphasis on activity. If the truth were to be told, it becomes more like a process where we don’t really need the Spirit to guide what we do since we already planned what to do.
I love the other definition, not really because I seem to like what it presents, but Scripture portrays it as well. Scripture doesn’t portray fellowship as a “meeting”, but a life; a sense of relatedness, genuine concern for one another. This doesn’t happen by just fixing a programme—it happens where two or more growing individuals meet to participate in each other’s journey. The church is actually “the company, group or body of people together, as a corporate body or individual member being a part of it”, and that’s no word to coin as fellowship. Fellowship is the deep sense of connection, concern or an atmosphere of relationships”. So, when Scripture talks about the believers having constant fellowship with one another, they were really enjoying an atmosphere of relationships with one another. Two folks could pull over and decide to encourage each other, or pray for ways to bless their community and other believers around them.
They are actually enjoying that fellowship of being two fellows in a ship of caring, loving and exercising compassion for the people of the body of Christ and the world as well. It could even be in meals together as they bless one another, or it could be praying together and singing together. It could be a thousand things to live together! We make mistake when we think fellowship is the group of people, or the singing, dancing and performance we do all the time. If anything, we really haven’t: might just be a weeny part of it. Fellowship takes place where we live as family, not trying to have a planned agenda. Believe it or not, it drives down to conformity when it’s a meeting, than when it ever is a family.
House FellowshipCan’t tell you less of what this is, really!
I grew up among folks with whom we go every Sunday evening for a meeting only to do the same stuff we do every Sunday morning, and it was in a certain house or so; and we always called it an “house fellowship”. I’m not so concerned about the name-calling compare to the routine we give to it. Truth be told, the home is meant to be the simplest place where believers can live together as family, perhaps, doing a lot more than we think which wouldn’t fit into our agendas.
I’ve wondered for over seven years why a church building having a clergy and two or three members would still embark on using a microphone and a pulpit, while he stands at the far front and they reclining as the audience (I don’t kick against this, especially when it’s a very tough number of folks). Isn’t it because it’s been a well-told story that if you ain’t doing it that way, you’re having no fellowship? Isn’t this three folks together supposed to pull themselves together and share the most of their journeys where it’s far easier to look into one another’s lives? Can it ever be too small? I don’t think it can. When people think like that, there’s wholly a sense of routine clouding them, and to enjoy fellowship would require shaking themselves free of it-should-be-this-way, to being free enough to go as far as the Spirit leads them.
It’s what I say about the house fellowship as well!
Do Not Forget The Assembling Of Yourselves
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25-KJV).
Exhort—“advise, encourage, admonish, counsel”
You see, this verse has been used to back up a number of theological ideas about attendance, which is why most people can crucify others who don’t attend. Meanwhile, it wasn’t even to this that Paul was referring, for they never had it back then.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (Vs. 24).
None of us can do without getting together to encourage one another, whether we are two folks or beyond, it does work into an atmosphere of relationship. Paul was actually reminding the believers, “Don’t fail to enjoy fellowship with one another; don’t forget to walk in genuine concern for one another, caring about one another and breaking bread together as it’s the nature of God’s family.” It was about relationships!
Let us take note (I don’t mean an attendance of who’s in a meeting) of one another’s journey, of one another; encourage one another to grow in love for one another that produces good works, that we ourselves might be provoked (stirred to action). Let’s be concerned about one another’s welfare (Philippians 2:4).
If you’re a friend who’ve met me, you’ll discover that I lack words when it comes to me meeting a believer and all that they want is to talk about football, movies, etc—It always boils down to spiritual conversations where we could both benefit and learn together.
Jesus said it takes just two or three to be together and enjoy the vitality of Church life. He wasn’t referring to those things we know today. They were kind of foreign to him. Therefore, when you meet an individual who believes in the Lord, or even more than that number, why not use it as an opportunity to grow yourselves in conversations together, focusing your eyes on what Jesus would want you to learn when together. You don’t leave it all to the pastor! This journey of Christianity isn’t about a priest serving the congregation, but the members serving “one another”. It’s where people grow in him, learn to abide in God’s love for them. There will be moments for prayer, but it doesn’t take our whole moment together. Prayer or music aren’t the only things a family does together: they do both as well invite each other for meals and teaching (not boiling it down to a sermon, but an informal conversation—call it Bible study, or whatever you want, that’s okay!).
If Fellowship Isn’t The Group, Or Our Usual Routine, What Can We Do Together?
I believe that’s a good question here! Think about this: On Sunday morning, you get a praise and worship session, a prayer point on various things, a sermon, tithe and offering, and we get out; then we repeat these activities Wednesday night, Friday night, Sunday house fellowship night (which should be the simplest moment together), and we actually do the same the next week, and next two weeks, a month later, a year later and years later. Is fellowship a pre-planned agenda for people to end up in lifeless routine? Isn’t this more like what the children of Israel had as they spent their lives doing the same things over and over again?
There are a lot of wonderful things to do together! I don’t know how to explain them all, as God is so creative! He could bring his people together and let them live more than we think possible. It could be like having meals together in Dale’s house this week, and Martha’s house next week; praying together over our lives, nations and family; going out to support the needy, weak, poor and a thousand other things.
God is so creative, but what is most important is that we are grooming each other to live in his love for others: that’s what makes the world know we are his. This leads to the replacement of our systems as life doesn’t just try to reorganise them, but turns us to the fruitful ways to bless God’s family and the world we live in, as Jesus did.
With Whom Can I Have Such Fellowship With? Not Everyone Can Be Ready
Of course, they can’t all be ready! But when you see people who yearn for true fellowship as Scripture portrays it, don’t walk away like you don’t care. It’s an opportunity for you to grow in love for that individual. Besides, if there ain’t people who want this, we have a lot of them in our religious institutions whom Father might connect you with. Just be real and ready to not be starting something, only to end up frustrated later on.
Truth be told, people growing to live in such authenticity might end up being shoved away by their institutions, for fear that they aren’t conforming to the organisation’s standards. No one looks at those times as easy, but learning to really enjoy relationships with other believers as brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than watching through a safe distance as some spectators, would always surpass the tragedies involved. This wouldn’t be a group stuff; as you grow in love, you never can tell where love will lead you. Love leads to more doors for fellowship. When this is absent, we are bound to start up being organised, rather than living organic.
Let love lead the way, then you never can predict how far the extent of relationships you’ll share with others, no matter the religious organisations they find themselves. You wanna know why? Love’s got no boundaries! When there’s no boundaries to how much you love, you’ll find no end to the fellowship you’ll share with others.
Would love to know your life on fellowship, as I would be sharing mine as well, based on your questions.
Do write your thoughts on this subject.
Would you like to talk about fellowship?
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