Most church families like to spend time together. I think this is a wonderful thing. Some people criticize churches by saying that they care too much about each other, and not enough about the lost world. Frankly, I do not see this as an “either/or” issue. Yes, churches should care about lost people. But it is also fine and good for them to care about each other.
If we return to Acts chapters two and four, we see people who enjoy being together.
A simple look at these verses tells us that the early church enjoyed being together. In fact, they probably spent much more time together than churches do today. As the church gradually faced more persecution from the pagan world, I imagine that they continued to fellowship with one another a great deal.
When the church gathers for fellowship today, what do we see? In many churches fellowship = food consumption. When the food (meal) is gone, the people go home. I’m not sure why this is the case, except that people have very busy lives and often are preoccupied with various sorts of entertainment.
While the early church appeared to actually share their lives with one another and depend upon one another, the church today seems to like spending time together, but does not actually depend on one another. This is a sad thing. When we rely upon the Lord first, and our Christian brothers and sisters second, I believe we have the sort of fellowship that Christ desires.
Another key thing to keep in mind is that when the church comes together (for fellowship, worship, discipleship, etc.), all things should be done for the edification of the body. In I Corinthians 14, where we actually get a peek at the gathering of the early church, we see the word “edification” used four times (N
So whenever the church gathers, everything that occurs must be done for the edification, or the building up, of the body of Christ. This includes fellowship.
If real fellowship means more than hanging out together at a meal, what can we do to move toward real dependency upon one another? If all things that occur when fellowshipping are to be done for edification, how can we spur this on? How do we promote real, biblical fellowship?
I have a few ideas, but would really like to hear from you all. Honestly, I’m somewhat stuck on what to suggest here. This is what I have at this point:
- The church must teach what biblical fellowship is, and how that differs from what we often see today.
- Along with #1, the church must teach about how important edification is.
- The church should have more opportunities to get together when specific programs are not scheduled. These get-togethers often lead to genuine, Holy Spirit-guided interaction and fellowship.
- The church needs to rid itself of as many committees and extra programs that it can.
- The church should encourage all members to take the time to get to know one another, serve one another, and share life with one another.
- The church needs to strive to meet one another’s needs. In general, those within the church should not have to depend upon government sources to meet their needs.