We exist to incorporate those who have been won!
Christian FELLOWSHIP is an extremely important aspect of our church life. Fellowship is much more than eating together. Breaking bread together can facilitate fellowship, but familial relationships which improve over time and are always open to new people is the goal of our Christian fellowship.
There are some cautions concerning fellowship, however, of which you should be aware.
In some instances, developing fellowship becomes an end rather than a means. While there is nothing wrong with individual church members spending time developing healthy Christian relationships, these must not be developed at the expense of evangelism.
Some churches begin to exhibit such a strong group consciousness that is expressed in lifestyle and language that they quickly exclude all but the informed. When Sunday School classes or small groups enjoy their own fellowship so much that they no longer seek others from outside, or the members become so closely knit that they appear clannish to outsiders a church can begin to plateau or decline.
We will not become a clique.
In our church a passion for souls must always outweigh a passion for the security one may receive from the fellowship of the group.
In order to combat developing cliques in our church we educate our membership on the proper purpose of fellowship within the church family. In Acts 2:42 the scripture states, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The word translated devoted has standing behind it the word picture of an animal that consumes. Therefore, we should understand by this statement that the first disciples consumed themselves with the Apostles’ teaching. What did the Apostles teach? The Old Testament was their Bible, and many of the Apostles became the authors of the New Testament. Thus, devotion to Scripture, that is to the teaching of the Old Testament and the New Testament, is a distinctive of authentic Christian community.
Therefore, for a church to establish an authentic New Testament fellowship it must first be devoted to the teaching and exposition of the Bible in as relevant means as possible.
Next, the Apostles were continually devoting themselves to fellowship. A correct understanding of fellowship in an authentic New Testament community reveals that fellowship focuses on all groups, both those within and without the church, for the purpose of bringing glory to God.
Because the church is a fellowship, we need to make unity and harmony top priorities among the membership. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:3 that we should “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Too often church members confuse friendliness with fellowship. The goal of fellowship is to develop more than acquaintances. Christian fellowship strives to develop deep and lasting relationships among individual Christians. While being friendly can greatly assist those individuals who are joining our church, persons who develop fellowship together will learn one another’s names, eat out together, have each family over to their home. Were tragedy to strike those with whom you have the deepest fellowship you would respond personally to meet their needs to the best of your ability. These deep lasting relationships are formed in Sunday school classes or small groups.
While it is true that individual differences in personality, education, profession, and generation all affect the formation and relative strength of relationships within the church fellowship, we need to avoid the development of cliques within our church. The formation and maintenance of cliques within a church fellowship are the result of the emotional cancer of comparison. According to sociologists, one of the motivations for the formation of cliques is the desire of individuals to compare themselves with others of the same social status. This type of comparison is very different from the acceptance and belonging offered individuals who join our church family. We want to look as much like the community that is around us to any individual or family that might walk through our doors. We want to be accepting to every person, regardless of socio-economic or racial differences. We are all different and God is not a respector of persons (James 2:1).
We think it wise to encourage cross generational fellowship within our church family. In today’s mobile society individuals are often separated from their extended family. If you think about it, there is no institution in our society where all generations are encouraged to exist together. Land developers in our society are increasingly encouraging the separation of our communities into patio homes for senior adults and subdivisions with playgrounds designed to attract families with children. In the church, however, everyone should be welcome and encouraged to fellowship together. We encourage the senior adults in our church to mentor the parents of young children and perhaps become the surrogate grandparents for those who live a great distance from their extended families.
As church leaders, we consciously utilize church activities to encourage the development of fellowship. We also seek to create opportunities for church members to see one another in social contexts across generational lines.
We exist to incorporate those who have been won!