A Thought experiment
Imagine a group of people where no one ever talked to each other, or hung out together, or was aware of the happenings in each other’s lives. Now imagine the same group but instead of never talking, these folks never stopped talking; instead of never hanging out, these people are always together; and instead of being unaware, they are intimately aware of one another including the good, the bad, and the indifferent things that are happening in each other’s lives. Which group of people has fellowship and therefore, community?
Fellowshipping is a verb
To be a community, individuals need to have a place where they belong and are known, as well as know others. We call this knowing and being know fellowship. Fellowship is not just a cookie and coffee on a Sunday morning along with some perfunctory statements about the weather. Fellowship is a way of living. Community doesn’t require fellowship as a noun but fellowshipping as a verb. The verb, the activity of forming life together, is what builds true community. Fellowshipping takes more than just a Sunday morning; it involves time together during the week.
True community is built over the long haul as people give of themselves and create space to work together, to play together, to serve together, to pray together, to eat together, to cry together, to laugh together, and to worship together. All these components (and probably a few others that aren’t listed) are part of a corporate life that develops true communal spirit. Even the very word community, is derived from commune and its meaning of cooperative, life together. This life together is built as we fellowship and share all aspects of life with one another.
Some Scriptural Support
Is there a scriptural warrant for fellowship? Absolutely, on the opening pages of Scripture God informs us that is it not good for one person to be alone, and so he created a woman to be with a man (Gen 2:18). If we fast forward thousands of years to the time of Christ, we notice that Jesus called his disciples to be with him (Mk 3:14) and for three years these 12 men went nearly everywhere Jesus went – they fished, they witnessed miracles, they preached, they ate together. And at the birth of the church, Acts 2:42 notes that the believers ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ And as we come to the end of the New Testament, the author of Hebrews reminds people of the importance of fellowship and not neglecting it (Heb 10:24-25).
So people of God, make space for one another in your weekly life. Not just on Sunday morning, but all through the week. Catch a coffee with someone, do a project together, eat a meal, go on a walk, or even give someone a phone call and talk about life. Share what God is teaching you and ask about what God is teaching them. And don’t just do it with those you are comfortable with, extend the net of fellowship to an ever-widening circle of people in the church. In this way, you will be building up the body of Christ and strengthening your own soul too. May God make us a true community abounding in robust fellowship.