In Search of Fellowship: Part 1
During my time as a senior pastor I started a prayer group on Monday evening to focus on praying for the needs of our church family. One Monday evening as we were discussing what God’s will is for our small church family one of the women made the observation that God’s will would include real fellowship. The consensus of the group was that while we were a friendly church true fellowship was absent.
I believe that many church families are searching for fellowship. They have programs in place to promote fellowship, but fellowship seems to elude them. Potlucks and small groups aren’t connecting people to one another, let alone connecting people to God. The reality is that fellowship can’t be programed or planned. Fellowship is the result of people getting involved in one another’s lives. Until we enter into the lives of other people fellowship will continue to be an elusive desire for our lives.
Fellowship is a great church word, but it isn’t one that we use outside of the context of church. Unless your friends are Christian you don’t invite people to your home for a time of fellowship. For most of us fellowship is about spending time with other Christians. Yet, the biblical idea of fellowship is so much more than just being together.
The Greek word that is translated fellowship is the word koinonia and according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary it means partnership and participation. In other words it is an action word and it requires us being involved in other person’s life. The idea of fellowship isn’t that we make time for “hanging out” but that we do life together. We are actively involved in the lives of other Christians, and we allow them to be involved in our lives.
We miss out on fellowship because we have made fellowship about spending time together, when it really is about being involved with each other. There is a huge difference. When we spend time together we can fake it by being friendly and polite. Being involved in the lives of other people means entering into their lives, accepting them for who they are, loving them, serving them, and encouraging them. It will require us to be vulnerable as we open our lives up to other people. Fellowship is risky business. Not only do we open ourselves up to being hurt, but we are also invited into the problems of other people. True fellowship is not for the weak of heart.