Summary: Koinonia means we will bear each other’s burdens, confess our faults, and restore each other gently.
How to Have a Healthy Church
SCRIPTURE READING: Philippians 2:1-4
Today is Pentecost Sunday. On this Sunday, forty days after Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter preached the first Gospel Sermon. On that day, over 5,000 people accepted Jesus as the Messiah. As soon as those people were baptized, hundreds of home congregations sprang up across the area --- and the Church was born.
This is the same way Churches are born today. When we send missionaries to un-reached parts of the world, their goal is to plant churches. A lot of you support the work of Indian Village Evangelism. That is their method. As soon as a few people accept the Lord, they start a church in that village. From that point on, the Village Church is the hub of evangelism in that area.
When evangelistic organizations --- like the Billy Graham crusades --- come to an area, they work hard to get the new converts connected to churches. Why? Because involvement in a local congregation is the main predictor of whether a person will keep living the Christian life after the Crusade leaves town.
You see, a healthy church is the best way to spread the Gospel. In fact, it is God’s plan that the Great Commission to Go into all the world and preach the Gospel will be fulfilled through the Church. The early Church relied upon two important means of evangelizing an unbelieving world: Kerygma and Koinonia. Now if you’re saying, “What are you talking about? That’s Greek to me,” you’re right.
· The Greek word, Kerygma – means proclamation or preaching.
· The term, Koinonia – describes fellowship. Literally it refers to sharing in or participating in something together.
The combination of Kerygma and Koinonia made the witness of the early Christians powerful and effective. In other words, people were convinced of the truth in the preaching because of the way the Christians showed love to one another.
The TEXT _______________________________ read today describes Christian Koinonia: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship (Koinonia) with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2
I think our congregation does a pretty good job of practicing Koinonia. But this is such an important issue, that we should always be looking for ways to do better.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another.” Those three words sum up the law of Christ. “Love one another!”
And how do we fulfill this law? Look in Galatians 6:2. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Quite simply, we fulfill the law of Christ when we bear each other’s burdens.
1. Bear Burdens
The command to bear each other’s burdens reminds me of the “buddy system” we used back at the Church Camp I went to --- way back when I was a little tyke. (Yes, there were Church Camps back in that day…) Our daily recreation was to swim in the lake at Round Lake Christian Assembly in Ohio. Now, these were the “good old days” when kids got to swim in a “real” lake --- not a man-made pond or swimming pool --- so this lake had some very deep places.
That’s why they were very strict about the two-man “buddy system”. Whenever the lifeguard blew his whistle, we had to immediately grab our buddy by the hand and then hold up our arms to show that we were together. If any one was not within easy reach of his buddy, they both had to get out for the rest of the afternoon.
Koinonia in the church is a lot like the “buddy system” we had at Round Lake. Christian fellowship means spending a lot of time together --- and doing it on purpose. It requires more than a casual “How’s it going?” in the foyer after church. We need to stick close together on a regular basis.
If we are practicing the “buddy system” in our church, we will laugh together, cry together, work together and play together. Because of that we will be able to struggle together when the waters get rough. We can pull each other up if we get in above our heads. And we can call for help if someone starts going under.
Scripture describes the church as:
· a building made of living stones
· a family,
· a bride.
· and as a body.
Since we are like a body, we have to function together. We support each other --- and we feel for each other. After all, if one part of your body gets hurt, your whole body will stop and take notice.