Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Church's Ministry of Fellowship

Part of a series on the ministries of the church.

a.      The Acts 2 church devoted themselves to fellowship with each other (koinonia). Koinonia means to have things in common with others. Fellowship was central for the early church. Every ministry of the church is related to fellowship. No fellowship – no ministry. There are at least 43 specific “one another” commands which can only be obeyed in fellowship. The Lord’s Supper takes place within the context of fellowship and if one’s relationships are not in good shape, the Scripture advises a believer not to participate until those relationships are corrected and made whole (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Teaching can take place only within the context of fellowship. Much of what the growing disciple absorbs is more caught than taught, and that only takes place in fellowship.

b.      For fellowship to develop, the church must create contexts in which people get to know each other and have a chance to share their needs and lives deeply. The Holy Spirit makes that heart connection and makes us aware of our commonalities with other believers. We must be in tune with the Spirit for genuine fellowship (1 John 1:7). The large group meeting is designed for worship – the focus is our relationship with God. The small group meeting is designed for fellowship – the focus is our relationships with each other. Sunday School classes are usually too short. Service together is a powerful way to develop fellowship. Relationships develop in the choir, in small group Bible studies, and prayer groups. Groups who go together on mission trips or even serve together on a committee tend to build relationships. Even healthy evangelism means developing a relationship with someone to love them into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The key element is time – time to develop relationships and trust in one another.

c.       Obstacles to fellowship include our consumer society, our inbred individualism, the decline of commitment to church membership, and the pace of life, but fellowship is central to the life and health of a church. Megachurches usually know their size is a detriment to fellowship, and they actually do a better job with fellowship through emphasizing small groups. The newer emerging, contemporary churches also have a strong emphasis on community and fellowship since many come from non-Christian and broken family backgrounds. Traditional and family churches are the poorest in providing fellowship because, to be blunt, they are the poorest at loving people different from themselves.

d.      “One Another” Commands of Scripture

1.      Accept one another (Rom 15:7)
2.      Admonish (correct or instruct) one another (Rom 15:14; Col 3:16)
3.      Agree with each other (1 Cor 1:10)
4.      Be at peace with each other (Mark 9:50)
5.      Be devoted to one another (Rom 12:10)
6.      Be humble toward one another (1Pet 5:5)
7.      Be joined to one another (Rom 12:5)
8.      Be kind to one another (Eph 4:31-32)
9.      Be patient with one another (Eph 4:2)
10.  Bear one another burdens (Gal 6:2)
11.  Bear with one another (Col 3:13)
12.  Build up one another (Rom 14:19; 1Thess 5:11)
13.  Care for one another (1Cor 12:25)
14.  Carry one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
15.  Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)
16.  Counsel one another (Rom 15:14)
17.  Do not bite, devour and destroy one another: Do not fight with one another (Gal 5:15)
18.  Do not envy one another (Gal 5:25-26)
19.  Do not grumble and complain against one another (James 5:9)
20.  Do not judge one another (Rom 14:13)
21.  Do not lie to one another (Col 3:9-10)
22.  Do not provoke (challenge) one another (Gal 5:25-26)
23.  Do not speak evil of one another (James 4:11)
24.  Encourage (exhort, correct, comfort) one another (1Thess 5:11; Heb 3:12-13)
25.  Fellowship with one another (1John 1:7)
26.  Forgive one another (Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-13)
27.  Greet one another (Romans 16:16; I Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; I Pet 5:14)
28.  Honor one another (Rom 12:10)
29.  Have equal concern for one another (I Cor 12:24-25)
30.  Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16)
31.  Love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12,17; Rom 12:9-10; 13:8; Gal 5:14; I Thess 3:11-12; 4:9-10; James 2:8; I Pet 1:22; 3:8; I John 3:11,23; 4:7, 11, 12, 21; 2 John 5)
32.  Minister gifts to one another (1Pet 4:10)
33.  Offer hospitality to one another (1Pet 4:9)
34.  Practice hospitality with one another (I Pet 4:7-10)
35.  Pray for one another (James 5:16)
36.  Rejoice with one another (Rom 12:15)
37.  Serve one another (Gal 5:13-14)
38.  Sing to one another (Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16)
39.  Spur one another on (Heb 10:24)
40.  Submit (willingly complying with decisions, instructions or wishes of others) to one another (Eph 5:21)
41.  Teach, admonish each other (Col 3:16)
42.  Wait for one another (1Cor 11:33)
43.  Weep with one another (Rom 12:15)