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No fellowship? Look in unexpected places, at unexpected times, among unexpected people

Posted by on Jul 11, 2012 in fellowship | 11 comments

No fellowship? Look in unexpected places, at unexpected times, among unexpected people

I’ve been part of more organized groups of believers and less organized groups of believers. I’ve been part of churches that meet in dedicated buildings, and I’ve been part of churches that do not meet in a dedicated building. I’ve been part of churches who mostly lived in rural areas, suburban areas, and urban areas. I’ve been part of churches that were organized with hierarchical leadership, and I’ve been part of churches without hierarchical leadership.

Among all of those different ways and locations that Jesus’ followers meet and organize, I’ve found one thing in common: some easily find fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ, while others do not easily find fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. And, to be honest, the amount of organization, the type of leadership, the way of gathering together, the location of the group… none of those attributes (or other attributes) affect the fact that some easily fellowship with others and some do not.

I’ve also talked with many of these people who struggle finding fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve found them to be sincere followers of Jesus Christ who desire fellowship with others. Yes, sometimes there have been struggles in the past, but that happens with those who find fellowship also. Yes, there are occasionally issues of sin that the person is struggling with, but this happens with those who find fellowship also.

So, why can some people find fellowship and others can’t? Well, I’ve found there are many different reasons. Often, the people are simply going through a season, and when God brings them out of it, he also fills their life with other brothers and sisters in Christ. But, often, I’ve also found that people just need a few pointers in reaching out to others.

You see, sometimes, people have been taught that fellowship is one particular thing in one particular place at one particular time. By the way, if you think I’m only referring to Sunday morning at 11:00 in a steeple building, I’m not. Some are also taught that fellowship only occurs in the living room of a house on Saturday afternoons.

So, I find myself encouraging people to look in unexpected places for fellowship. I encourage them to keep their eyes open at unexpected times to find fellowship. I keep encouraging people to look for fellowship among unexpected people.

Any time, at any place, among any people is a good time to begin or continue sharing your life with someone else.

Have you ever found that you were able to begin (or continue) sharing your life with unexpected people, in unexpected places, at unexpected times? Could you share part of that story?


11 Comments

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  1. 7-11-2012

    Here’s one…don’t know if it qualifies…

    http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/blueberries-beavers-and-a-big-god/

    The other instance came on my 10th wedding anniversary. Short version is that my wife and I were staying at a local B&B. Around breakfast the next morning with the other residents, we had a fantastic morning of fellowship, Christian edification, and worship with a couple of retired ministers who were there on their vacations with their wives. God was there, too, even with a non-believing innkeeper there with us, who, in tears, received prayer from the fellowship.

    Yes…whereever 2 or more are gathered…

  2. 7-11-2012

    Praise the Lord, what a wonderful encouragement. We have found that there are no cookie cutter patterns to follow in the Spirit. The Lord does not want us to get flat in our thinking, but to look to Him for endless possibilities. The Internet has been a wonderful source of spiritual fellowship for my family and I. While I know it may be unusual for many, our extended family has become a powerful ekklesia since being asked to leave church. For each individual soul hearing the Lord speak to you and giving you guidance is His primary goal for your life. Christ’s salvation is for a spiritual return trip to the Garden, and to spiritual intimacy with our Abba.

  3. 7-11-2012

    Robert,

    Thanks for the examples! Coffee and pie (or at least coffee) is no longer an unexpected time for me to find fellowship anymore. :)

    Marc,

    Yes, it is good to meet people online. Any specific examples or perhaps times of face-to-face fellowship that were unexpected?

    -Alan

  4. 7-11-2012

    There is just something about gathering around food…I find it less of a coincidence that so many events in the Bible that describe the inbreaking of the Kingdom occur around food and drink.

  5. 7-11-2012

    Alan, reminded this week in examples from both US coasts how people can mistakenly be looking for a support group (people ostensibly like them) in the name of “fellowship”. Cliques & support sessions, falling short of fellowship, can leave that “still haven’t found what I’m looking for” effect?

  6. 7-11-2012

    Robert,

    Yes, food… or at least coffee. :)

    Marshall,

    People are often looking for different things. I love that change that happens when they find Christ when they least expected him.

    -Alan

  7. 8-7-2012

    Ok, late on the comment I know, but a thought maybe for a future post… How do you go about finding a fellowship that is less institutional?

    Here is the problem – by being less institutional, there is less ‘physical’ evidence of existence. No building. No church registration with local authorities. No advertising. No website. Just the body of Christ.

    Now – there are a lot of ‘churches’ around me. I even attend one, despite disagreeing with their core principals, as it allows my family to remain in fellowship with other believers. But how to find those of a like mind, and meet with them more informally?

    And now the complication – I am a massive introvert. Yes, yes I am, and my wife is the same. So, we don’t go out regularly, we don’t go to meetings, or community events, etc, because we don’t want to (and are uncomfortable if we do). Yet, we enjoy fellowship with other believers so make sure we get out for that, but, we doubt we will ‘run into’ others who believe the same very easily, since we aren’t running into anyone :D

    So – we remain where we are despite believing differently to most of the congregation and certainly the ‘church structure’.

    Another thought then – what can less institutional churches do to make themselves more visible? How do current ones go about it, and what can others do? What is the experience of churches out there?

    I know they are tough-ish questions, but worth posing…

  8. 8-7-2012

    Drewe,

    Yes, they are extremely tough questions, and I don’t think there are any systematic answers that will work for everyone. Actually, I’ve written about this in a couple of posts from earlier this year:

    People want real examples of organic church life
    Why is it so difficult to find organic church life?

    Those posts probably won’t answer all of your questions, but maybe they will be a little helpful.

    -Alan

  9. 8-7-2012

    Drewe has written, “what can less institutional churches do to make themselves more visible?”
    The simple/organic ekklesia knows a spiritual visibility, while the temple of Christ is quite literally walking around, day by day. Our spiritual location is fixed (“upon this Rock”), while physical locations of the Body of Christ are transient/mobile. (the inverse of established religion.)
    [II Corinthians 6:16]
    Drewe also writes, “there are a lot of ‘churches’ around me. I even attend one, despite disagreeing with their core principals, as it allows my family to remain in fellowship with other believers. But how to find those of a like mind, and meet with them more informally?”
    There may be some people attending these brick-n-mortar churches who would gladly meet with you “more informally”. Now, this would be enabled when you would be overcoming introversion’s attempts to keep you away from inviting others.
    News about “organic” small ekklesia is primarily known by other small ekklesia, and with a few who travel between them for sake of the Master’s Love of His Bride.
    Evermore seek the Head, and you will find the Body.

  10. 8-8-2012

    Thanks Alan and Marshall,

    One comment Marshall – by visible, I meant ‘findable’. ie – someone searching for that specifically can find them. I know God knows where they are, they know where they are, but the are essentially invisible otherwise – almost like a persecuted church would be (and yet different). We have so many ‘churches’ that ‘advertise’ – how do we find those that don’t?

    I actually did find one in my area – and there was nothing but a basic mission statement and an email address for a guy who was part of it – who never replied… So I am left thinking they are so invisible as not to be found, or in my part of the world just dont exist!

    Drewe

  11. 8-8-2012

    Alan – and thanks for the post references. The first one expresses my exact thought – where are they, how are they found?

    I guess in some ways it is locational – When I lived in Denver I was part of a strong community that would fit the ‘organic’ description, and we found them very easily. Though now on the outskirts of an Australian capital there is not much to find….

    The other is that you have to be part of the circle to know it exists. There are many parts of our society we don’t know exist – in my current job I’ve learned of a bunch of ‘groups’ that I might have half known existed, but now I have met people who are part of those groups (unfortunately, they are not Christian groups!) – because I work with quite a few of the participants.

    So, as always, I know God will either direct me to the right place, or someone to me, that it will all work in the end. I know this is the case – but I guess I still search too (rather than just sit back and expect something to come to me).

    Drewe