Fellowship

Fellowship

Fellowship:  the word itself sparks different images for different people.  For some it is a hot dog and coke in the “church fellowship hall”.  For others is it a hand shake on Sunday morning or the ever present Chic-Fil-A sandwich at lunch with a friend.  Cornerstone Family Church has as one of its core values “Fellowship Meals”.  But what does this mean?   What does it look like?  What should it look like?

Almost every Sunday, after service, we celebrate a “Fellowship Meal”.  The themes vary from “Beef” to “Breakfast”.  We conclude service with the Doxology and run for the buffet line (children are usually a little quicker at this than the old folk).  We grab a plate, a chicken leg, a veggie, dessert and sweet tea (ah, how very Southern).  We sit down, typically with a friend, eat and laugh and generally talk about the week.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, we can do that at Cracker Barrel.  What makes our “Fellowship Meals” distinctive?  What should they look like?

In the 1980’s, a very common word took on new meaning in many churches and the idea simply exploded.  That word would be normal for us today, but 30 years ago it was new.  This word is “community”.  We typically add “of faith” to it now.  Seminaries have required “community of faith” groups where students are assigned certain groups meeting once a week to share various aspects of their life, usually more than classes and grades.  Churches use this phrase in their name.  For example, New Life Community of Faith.   The 1980’s saw a resurgence in a study of the Book of Acts, particularly Chapter 2:42-47.  The context of this passage is on, or shortly after, the “Day of Pentecost” and Peter’s powerful sermon pronouncing Christ as the Messiah.  Then vv. 42-47 expound on what a New Testament church should look like:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (emphasis added).

But I think the word on which the entire passage hinges is “the fellowship”.   In Greek, it is koinonia  and literally is translated “fellowship”.  But it is far more powerful a word than just “chicken leg” or “beef brisket”.  In the Greek and in the early church it meant to be so intimately connected with each other that if one member of the body is hurting, the rest of the body instinctively reaches out to help.  There is no need for phone calls or Facebook messages.  The body automatically reacts. Why?  How?  Because it is so in tune with what’s going on, needs are automatically identified and ministered to.  Is there anything wrong with someone calling and saying, “pastor, we need help”?   Not at all.  But if our Fellowship Meals are to be more than Cracker Barrel meals, we need to intentionally engage those sitting across from us, listen to their week, their financial/emotional/family needs and let those in leadership know.  That is THE primary reason for our Fellowship Meals.  After all, the chicken leg can be purchased at Wal-Mart.  Biblical Fellowship cannot be.

So, let us become more intentional about our Fellowship Meal.  Let it be Biblical in essence.  Koinonia.

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