Summary: Church is not about entertainment, nor about being made to feel good, nor about promises that God will give you health, wealth and happiness ... it is about becoming a mature disciple for Christ.



If you go on line and look up the basic needs for camping you will be amazed at what some folks think is essential for camping. They talk about bringing tables, and chairs, and portable camp fires, and solar cells for recharging batteries, and fans, and battery powered TVs, and tents, and toilets, and portable sinks, and battery powered refrigerators, and a chuck-wagon pantry, and a ton of food, and I could go on for a long time with stuff like this. Now all of these things do serve to make you more comfortable; but, I would not call them essential.

When I was a young fellow the idea of what was essential for camping was a bit different. From our perspective it was nice to have an army blanket and a poncho, a couple of slabs of bacon, a bag of beans, a bag of self-rising flower, ground coffee, and a small bag of salt and pepper was always nice. Of course a small pole ax is handy. These were considered essentials for comfortable camping, and with the ax and a knife you could make any other convince you wanted. The point is that when we say “essentials” … essential is all in the eyes of the beholder.


When we consider our basic needs for a camping trip these needs are determined by the camper. If our objective is to be out doors but have all the comforts of home than our list of fundamental needs will be humongous. On the other hand, if our objective is to be out doors without a lot of fuss and bother then your list of fundamental needs will be rather small. If a person is doing their things then they can determine their own needs; but, when it comes to man doing God’s thing it is God who determines what is needed. Thus, when it comes to following Jesus’ command to make disciple we must go to scripture in determining what is needed to fulfill this task.


When most Christians consider the reason for having a fellowship they seldom associate the fellowship with disciple making. Most Christians will tell you the reason we have a church meeting is so that we can come together to worship God. Some may even include the need for Sunday school. In fact, if we look into this a bit deeper we will discover that most people wrap-up all of their Christianity into a one or two hour meeting each week. The rest of their life belongs to them and their pursuit of worldly things. When your objective for going to church is as shallow as this your list of fundamental Church needs will be very shallow as well.

In our last sermon we showed that the foundation of any Christian Fellowship is Jesus Christ and that the main mission of any Christian fellowship is making disciples who will labor in God’s ministry of reconciliation. Think about this! Have you seriously considered church as being focused on making you into a disciple: who will labor in God’s ministry of reconciliation? Of course not: we go to church to have our “get-into-heaven” ticket punched. Well, many people do; but, they are wrong! When we address the fundamental needs of a Christian Fellowship we must focus on the needs required for making disciples who will labor in God’s ministry of reconciliation.

Before you run off with the notion that Sunday school is for making disciples … you just might want to think about what a disciple is. A disciple is someone who knows the teachings of Jesus; a disciple adheres to the doctrines of Jesus; and a disciple tells others about the teachings of Jesus. Sunday school should help us with understanding the teachings of Jesus, but in most cases it does little in developing commitment to the doctrine of Jesus; and almost nothing in training us to take this doctrine to a lost and dying world. It should be both sermons and Sunday Schools that help build disciples willing to labor in the ministry of reconciliation.

Although there are many fellowship needs associated with making disciple, for the sake of brevity, we have attempted to coalesce this list a few basic sermon themes that should frequently be heard in a true Christian fellowship. Ergo, to mature as a Christian we need:


There is much conflict in Christianity over what “worship” entails. For some odd reason we have mistakenly assumed that there is an automatic “worship” portion to our fellowship. Most people feel that worship entails singing and perhaps even dance. It is difficult to see how our entertaining one another can have anything to do with worshiping God.

This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Matthew 15:8-9

To start with, the basic New Testament era concept of worship is to bow down or even prostrate oneself on the ground; and, perhaps even kiss the ground as a symbol of our honoring or revering the person being worshiped. This secular concept of worship becomes what God expects when we transcend physical reverence into the spiritual reverence. John 4:23-24

Probably the most important concept of worship is our learning to manifest the teachings of Christ in our life. Romans 12:1-2


Prayer is reverent communication with God, which we all must learn to do.

It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.

‘Give us each day our daily bread.

‘And forgive us our sins,

For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:1-4

We are to be in frequent prayer and this prayer must be from our heart … it must be spiritual and based on a solid faith in the power of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

In a fellowship, prayer can be uttered by a single individual, or prayer can be the congregation uttering a prayer in unison. It is questionable, however, if the practice of everyone praying individual prayers out loud, at the same time, is proper for mature disciples. Paul taught that there should be no confusion in a church service; for God is not a God of confusion and thus all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40


Learning to study scripture is probably the most important element in a disciple-making fellowship; however, it may not be found in the common practice of preaching. In essence, preaching can certainly be instruction; but, preaching does not necessarily meet the criteria of Jesus’ Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20

It is also common for our fellowship meetings to have a time set aside for studying the word of God in smaller groups; often this is called Sunday school. This should be an excellent time for disciple making; but, it often turns out to be just another sermon. Even when it is truly a training session there is still the need for the training to be meat-filled and not just another bottle-feeding exercise. People need to be trained to serve Jesus and to work at sharing the Good News.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


Herein lays the Achilles heel of almost all fellowships. We allow sin to exist in the church because we do not want to meddle in the affairs of others. Perhaps we resist examination of a sinner because we ourselves do not want to come under closer scrutiny. This is wrong! All scripture has been given by inspiration of God, and thus it is to be used for discipline and correction.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; … Galatians 6:1


Sometimes we get to thinking that our Christian service is simply showing up at church; perhaps some view service as putting money in the collection plate. This is not Christian service; Christian service is fighting the good fight; Christian service is finishing the course; and Christian service is keeping the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

We also have a tendency to view our service as only what we do as a congregation. In truth, however, we are also individually responsible for serving other Christians.

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Romans 15:1

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

We do not want to fool ourselves. If we serve to impress others, or to make ourselves feel good, or for personal gain we may very well miss the mark set by Jesus. Our service must come from our heart and not our head. Matthew 7:21-23

In all of this, our service is “Christian” when it is accomplished in conjunction with our production of Spiritual Fruit. Galatians 5:22-23


If we truly love one another we will be filled with empathy for our brothers and sisters. At all times we will want the best for them, and we will demonstrate this in our prayers and our attention to their needs.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 1 Timothy 2:1

We have a perfect model of empathy in the Holy Spirit. We should do our best to mirror the Holy Spirits intercession for us.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26


We generally look at endurance as the physical or mental process of continuing an undertaking despite unpleasant or difficult circumstances. In the New Testament the application of endurance is linked to our continuing the process of maturing as a Christian, as well as continuing in service to Christ. One of the things we must endure is opposition to our living a Christian lifestyle.

By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:19

You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Matthew 10:22

In America most Christians are not persecuted or physically harmed. There are other places, however, where walking with Jesus will result in rejection, depredation, and perhaps even physical dangers.

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5

We practice endurance in our walk with Jesus because it is endurance that keeps us on the narrow pathway, and it is endurance that results in our maturing as a Christian.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4


Paul likens the struggle of a Christian to the labors and training of an athlete; he also models the Christian’s struggle against evil in the light of a soldier fighting on the battlefield.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

In fact, Paul goes so far as to tell the Ephesians that we Christians are on a battlefield where we must fight the good fight against evil spiritual forces in the spiritual realm, here on earth, in earthly institutions and in local authorities. Ephesians 6:10-18


We can endure because we have set our focus on Jesus and with our focus on Jesus we strive to reject the ways of the world and to ever improve our Christian walk.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

To mature as a Christian means that we are learning more about God’s will and about Jesus’ expectations.

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2

It is only through the process of maturing as a Christian that we can truly come to Know Christ, and we can only truly serve Christ if we truly know Him. This knowledge manifests itself in Christian unity and scriptural steadfastness.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16


I seriously doubt if there was a New Testament issue, which has created more controversy, debate, and hostility in the 20th century than Spiritual Gifts. In fact, there are still isolated groups that vehemently attack one another over the issue of Spiritual Gifts. In one camp the people believe in the necessity of things like speaking in tongues and in the other camp people believe the Holy Spirit went into retirement when the last apostle died. Now to be sure … it is a fact … scripture does not support either camp’s position as the singular understanding of the mission of the Holy Spirit. To start with Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to earth for a specific purpose.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 15:16-17

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us manifestations of the Spirit for the common good of the fellowship. Now, there are many different gifts but it is the same God who works all things in all persons; because, it is the Holy Spirit that determines who will receive spiritual gifts such as: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11

It is impossible to understand why some people seem to worship the gift more than the gift giver and at the same time there are stiff-necked people who deny the working of the Holy Spirit among Christians today. The fact is, the Holy Spirit is still the ‘gift giver’ and the gifts are given to strengthen the fellowship.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11


It is kind of interesting that there is no scriptural support for a Christian Fellowship being in the business of entertaining people, or for its being a mechanism with the mission to make people feel good. The Christian fellowship has one main mission: train disciples who can effectively handle the Ministry of Reconciliation.

Jesus said that He is the supreme authority in heaven and on earth and that He commands us to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that He commanded. Matthew 28:6-20

It is as simple as that … we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are to share the gospel so that people will heard the truth and the Holy Spirit can lead them into becoming a new creation. They will be born again because God has reconciled those who embrace Christ and God has given every one of us the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of reconciliation is our mission to tell others that God, through the sacrifice of Christ, is reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our trespasses against us, and that in Christ we have eternal life. In essence, every born again Christian is an ambassador for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

God does not call a preacher to entertain the people. God did not call a preacher to promise the people that He would grant them health, wealth, and happiness. God did not call a preacher to make the people feel good with ear tickling sermons. A true preacher will lay aside the elementary teaching about Christ and press on to Christian maturity. Hebrews 6:1-2 A true preacher will teach the people to set aside encumbrances and avoid sinning so that they can run the race set before them with endurance. Hebrews 12:1-2 These are the needs of a Christian fellowship and they are extremely easy to understand; because, all the needs of a Christian fellowship support its mission to make disciples who effectively labor in the ministry of reconciliation.