the weblog of Alan Knox

Recognzing and living among the church beyond your particular circle

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in blog links, fellowship | 9 comments

Recognzing and living among the church beyond your particular circle

Josh at “Called to Rebuild” has written a very important post called “Living a church life that involves ALL God’s people.”

In the post, Josh talks about recognizing and living among the church beyond the particular people that he gathers with regularly. But, the post is important because he does more than just talk about it: he’s trying to live it, and he provides an example for us.

Josh writes:

The brothers and sisters I meet with on a regular basis are few in number. It’s been that way all three years we’ve been together. And while I am thoroughly convinced that it is not our number but simply what we are that makes for the Lord’s testimony, we often long for more fellowship with other believers. So in the past six months or so, as the light of the local church being the fellowship of all God’s people in a given place has dawned upon me, I’ve been moved to more actively seek out fellowship with other believers beyond the “walls” of our particular circle.

Thus far, the results of this endeavor have been both rewarding and frustrating. While we have been able to connect with many brothers and sisters who have different backgrounds and emphases of truth, at the same time it’s been difficult to gain any kind of reciprocation to our reaching out. Whether they are too busy, too cautious or simply do not see the importance of it, many saints don’t seem to have much desire to really go beyond their own congregation to have fellowhsip with other local believers. It’s heartbreaking, really.

Yes! We need more examples like this. We need to read about and see more believers reaching beyond the “walls” of their particular fellowship to embrace those other believers that God has brought into their lives. These brothers and sisters are already there in your workplace, school, neighborhood, social clubs, hobby groups, etc.

And, yes, like Josh is discovering, this kind of fellowship is difficult to find. At times, the search can be heartbreaking. However, I’ve found that the benefits are well worth the work!

What about you? How have you searched for and found fellowship with brothers and sisters outside of your particular circle?


9 Comments

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  1. 10-4-2011

    We have tried as well with mixed success. I concur that often it is a one way street. We are welcome to come fellowship with others but they seem less inclined to step outside of their own circle to reciprocate. I don’t think it is because people are unfriendly but rather there is an unspoken rule in the church that if you fellowship outside of the community you are a “member” of that you are somehow being unfaithful.

  2. 10-4-2011

    Josh, Arthur, Alan,

    Same-o, same-o! But I think we are moving in the right direction.

    I’ve had modest success with summer picnics and with weekly or monthly “dinner and conversations” invitations for a group of Christians we meet here and there. Sometimes we just invite a single family. Mostly though, the effort to integrate with other Christians has been one-way. There are quite a few “simple/organic” churches in the area, and we visit most of them, and occasionally get several to meet together now and then.

    We don’t meet with our regular “church” (friends) on Sundays, reserving that time to go visit other local churches. A few, we visit somewhat regularly. Others, now and then. It lets us have a circle of about ten churches–baptist, plymouth brethren, assembly of God, presbyterian, methodist (lady preacher!), etc. Yes, that circle is drawn based on geography–not denominations–but that is a for my purist benefit, as few of the churches near us actually draw from our own neighborhoods *sigh!*

    We’ll also go off and occasionally visit churches beyond what I consider my reasonable locality. I’ve visited Alan’s group a few times over the years just cause I think the world of Alan (and somehow he’s usually not there the week we visit!), and also visited Doug Rea’s fellowship (another regular contributor here) down in Albany, GA. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to visit a church and get somewhat involved for the few days to weeks I’m there. If I’m out of town for a week or more on business, I’ll try to rent a room from a family referred by a church in the area. Retired folks can use the money and the fellowship, and I have a built-in connection to an extended church family.

  3. 10-4-2011

    Arthur and Art,

    Very, very difficult… often one-sided… but extremely refreshing and encouraging when real relationship begin to form.

    -Alan

  4. 10-4-2011

    Alan,

    It IS very difficult and one-sided, and gets more difficult when health matters limit one’s ability to be the visitor. It seems, though, that one’s health problems limits the ability of others to reverse the visiting :)

  5. 10-4-2011

    Great article! My family and I have experienced the same problem when seeking out other disciples. The relationship begins to warm. However, when they discover our thoughts on “church” a chill sets in. It really is heartbreaking. On the contrary, however, is the church in Asia. I have met with so many who tell me how they experience the greater joy of friendship outside the church walls despite the fact they are not part of their “grouping”. While it is most certainly a cultural trait, I strongly believe it’s has to do with the fact that they realize all disciples are in the same “boat” in a country not friendly to Christians.

    I’m wondering if that is what it’s going to take…..

  6. 10-4-2011

    Alan,
    This post goes along with the direction I have been heading for sometime, and that is to actively treat other believers I am around as part of my church. For example; I tell a guy I work with that i view him as my church and we now have devotions together. After being asked to take part in a small group with some close friends who go to an area large church and some of their neighbors, we said yes because we view them as our church. For me, I no longer go to church because the church is all around me. Yes, I have talked to some friends who see this as a lack of devotion to one group, but I don’t see Christianity as a lifting up or building up of one group. I try and often fail at living out Christianity that is a devotion to one gospel and one Lord Jesus Christ.

  7. 10-4-2011

    Thanks for the highlight, Alan. My own efforts in this direction are faltering at best, but as the Lord gives us grace what can we do but follow Him? If I’ve learned anything in my sojourn thus far it is how much the Lord is against sectarianism.

  8. 10-5-2011

    It is very encouraging to me that several of us are reaching through the walls of “local church” in order to build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, we’re finding that those walls are strong indeed. But, let me encourage you to keep reaching. We’ve met brothers and sisters who did not want much to do with us, until they needed help. Then they found that we were the only ones who cared enough to DO something for them. Hang in there… you’ll be surprised what God is doing.

    -Alan

  9. 10-11-2011

    me too….. but I will keep reaching…

    but how come when I reach or gather at “their” places…. I often feel like I’m walking on to a used car lot? or at best.. i feel like we have a big “i’m visiting – try to get me to join here” sticker on my shirt… I guess because I used to be one of the marketing gurus.