the weblog of Alan Knox

Fellowship, smellowship

Posted by on May 27, 2009 in blog links, fellowship, gathering | 4 comments

Arthur at “the voice of one crying out in suburbia” has written two excellent posts concerning the topic of fellowship.

In the first post, called “Now that sounds like Biblical fellowship“, he describes a church meeting that he heard about from a believers from Hong Kong:

Believers gathered in their home starting at around 8:00 AM and then spent the rest of the day in fellowship, having meals, meeting one on one, listening to preaching, Bible studies, spending time with one another. He said the last person would leave at around 8:30 PM.

Arthur responds with this:

Why do we think we are so sophisticated in America that we have moved beyond this sort of fellowship? It is fine for those people over there but we can get the same thing in our expensive buildings and scheduled programs, we don’t want anything unscripted. Have we moved beyond Biblical fellowship and found something better?

Good question, Arthur. I think we’ve definitely moved beyond biblical fellowship, but I wouldn’t call it “something better”.

And, I think Arthur would agree. Why? Because in his next post, called “Membership or fellowship: Which is the greater need today?“, he suggests that “membership” has replaced fellowship in importance in the church today. Of course, he also notes that other things – such as corporate prayer – have also been replaced. I think Arthur says it best in his conclusion:

Can we assume that church gatherings have fellowship and prayer? Does meeting in the same room and listening to someone else pray on your behalf count as Biblical fellowship and prayer? A once a month sparsely attended potluck dinner is a poor substitute to devoting ourselves to fellowship and the breaking of bread. More to the point, can we have a “healthy” church where fellowship and prayer is given only passing thought? My point is not a criticism of 9 Marks but just to point out how easy it is to make assumptions that are unwarranted by reality and focus on areas that are at best peripheral issues and at worst are merely human traditions.

We have got to get this right in the church. All the Reformation in the world will not change the church if we fail to get past the traditions and labels we have erected. May I suggest we focus on fixing the fundamentals before we start tinkering with traditions?

Good suggestion, Arthur. One note of warning… if you focus on the fundamentals, you will be labeled a “minimalist”. But, don’t worry about that label; just keep focusing on the fundamentals.


4 Comments

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  1. 5-28-2009

    Great post. This sums up a bunch of thoughts that have been swirling around my head today. Unfortunately I don’t know what to do with these thoughts. Those closest to me keep reminding me of my convictions regarding unity. And I believe Christ is at work in the lives of many people in my local assembly. I pray for wisdom to help move myself and others towards experiencing more Biblical fellowship without doing harm to unity.

    (and to accomplish this, I may need to focus more in the real world than in blogger world.)

    Anyways, thanks for the post… appreciate it as usual. God bless!

  2. 5-28-2009

    Jonathan,

    Two things: 1) Yes, I think Christ is at work in the lives of many people, especially in the area of unity. and 2) Yes, this must be practices “offlines”. :)

    -Alan

  3. 5-31-2009

    We just came back from a vacation in North Georgia. We stayed with some dear Saints that we knew. John and Bunny were our hosts, my wife and I and 4 children.

    They meet with other Believers every Saturday about 12pm and have lunch together and stay until they want to break up and go home.

    After lunch they all break our their Bibles around the table and just informally share about the good things of God. There was no hiding the fact that they absolutely love God’s Word and not for debating. They love it for the life that they receive from it. If someone has a word from the Lord they will share it. There was complete freedom and liberality and love.

    In fact, you know how it is when you meet other Christians who really love Jesus? You feel like you have known them all your life. Well, that is the way it was. So much love and acceptance, we just felt part of the family. And this is the way it should be when you gather with those who name the name of Christ.

    We stayed into the late afternoon. Some brothers excused themselves and walked outside amongst the vegetable gardens and visited the next door neighbor, then came back. Early in the evening, the Ladies decided to make dinner for all. After dinner the Ladies sat at the table in the kitchen and fellowshipped for about 3 hours and the men sat on the porch and spoke about many things. About 11pm we all broke up and went home.

    We stayed at John and Bunny’s house for 11 days. During those times we witnessed many of the Saints calling at various times each day. These Believers seemed to be best friends and could not wait to see each other again.

    They got together spontaneously 3 days later. They speak with each other most everyday.

    Another thing I loved about them was that they absolutely loved people, unsaved people. For everytime I was with them in public, they found time to engage people in conversation about the Lord. They did it with a smile and easily conveyed that they really care about these people.

    Most times it was brief and a tract was given, and a few times a lengthy conversation ensued.

    John would tell me every morning, “Rick, we’re one day closer”, or he would say, “Rick, everybody dies, but not everybody lives, and I want to LIVE”.

    John was a huge encouragement to me. He definitely had never met a stranger. Always had a kind, encouraging word for strangers. Always sowing seeds of love (and tracts). He told me, “Jesus did not call me to be successful, but He did call me to be Faithful”.

    Every Saturday, I know that they are meeting at Austin’s place and I can hear them saying to each other, “Do you love Jesus!!!”

    The 1st century Christians must have been like this. Joyful get togethers and love overflowing for one another.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. 5-31-2009

    A Pilgrim Passing Thru,

    Thank you for a great example of fellowship!

    -Alan