Summary: What fellowship is and its necessary elements.
God’s Glorious Church
Woodlawn Baptist Church
June 12, 2005
On Sunday nights for a while now I’ve been dealing with things that really matter concerning the health of a church. So far we’ve dealt with why discipleship matters, why worship matters, why doctrine matters, why first impressions matter, and tonight I want you to consider the fact that fellowship matters. If Woodlawn Baptist Church is going to be a healthy church, then we must be a church that is strong in fellowship. Of course, if our church has a strength that really stands out, it is our fellowship with one another.
In Acts 2, I have read from the last few verses now several times. Peter has preached the gospel to the multitude, and verse 41 says,
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…”
What exactly is fellowship? Why does it matter for healthy body life in a church, and what elements are necessary for good fellowship? I want to deal with these questions tonight as we consider this subject. First of all…
What is Fellowship?
Fellowship can be a difficult word to define, as it brings to mind so many different things to different people. We most often think about getting together and eating. We think of the social aspect of it and reduce fellowship to getting together for our senior’s outings, or youth trips or things like the Father’s Day picnic coming up next Saturday. Regardless of the event, fellowship most often means coming together in some social church setting, but it really means much more than that.
The word fellowship as you find it in the King James Version of your Bibles comes from the Greek word koinonia. The word has several meanings, each of which give us varying angles from which to consider its meaning. Before I give them to you I want to remind you of what a church is and why we exist. Remember that a church is a group of scripturally baptized believers who have covenanted together to serve the Lord’s purposes. God has brought our church together to reach the lost, to lead them to Christ, to baptize them, teach and train them so that they in turn develop lasting and meaningful relationships with Jesus Christ and express their love for Him through a lifetime of service in church ministry.
With that in mind, the word fellowship first of all means partnership, or participation. You see, in God’s economy there’s no room for Lone Ranger Christianity. We’re partners in this together. Jesus didn’t call on me to fulfill the Great Commission. He has called us to the task. This idea of fellowship runs through everything we do, whether it be Sunday morning worship, Vacation Bible School, evangelism or simply getting together for a work day, be done through the active participation of our church body, not the labors of a select few.
Participation and partnership don’t just involve the work we do. It also has to do with daily living before Christ. Without you, my walk with Jesus Christ wouldn’t be the same. I know that not only as a pastor, but simply as a child of God you are praying for me, encouraging me, challenging me, and supporting me. We’re partners in this together.
The word fellowship also carries the meaning of intercourse. When you think about intercourse, you ought to have in mind the most intimate expression of love for one another in the marriage relationship. I love the way the Bible uses the phrase, “and he knew his wife.” That was the phrase for intercourse. He knew her. Apply that to fellowship. Our bond ought to be so close in Christ that we enjoy spiritual and social intimacy with one another.
Fellowship lastly has the meaning of communion, or community. It means to have something in common. I want you to follow along with me as I read the following passages of Scripture.
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another…”
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”