"Today's church is not a community but rather a collection of individuals" - Randy Frazee. If this is the case, how do we change it?
Members are strongly encouraged to join a small group meeting (usually at someone's home). The purpose of this is to discover fellowship, build meaningful relationships, contribute to and experience biblical community. This is part of the process of developing healthy disciples.
The idea is based on the life-model the first century congregation has given us – it’s a pattern for successful community. Our desire is for all members to experience real biblical community, recapturing the best bits of the lifestyle of the early church, and thereby exhibiting an alternative to the “Me first” society. To live life in the way Yahweh intended us to live from the very beginning means we must be connected together in community.
At the very beginning, we are told of the believers, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). From the very beginning, when new members were added, they came into a community whose members were devoted to each other and to fellowship. "Devoted" is a strong word. It speaks of desire and zeal.
"Fellowship" contains a number of ideas, including: To share with someone in something; to participate and share in what others also share; to hold in common. What Christians share and have in common is Yahshua. Despite other differences, our unity is in Him. And so we fellowship around Him. Our teaching is about Him, in breaking of bread we proclaim His death till He comes, we pray to the Father through Him. Our relationship with each other in Yahshua’s church is not an outcome of attraction – somehow liking each other; it’s not due to similarity of class or interest, personality or background. Yahweh chose us, called us and made us part of His new covenant community. Our fellowship in the church rightly makes us "brothers and sisters"; therefore, we should live as such.
C S Lewis wrote “[Yahshua] works on us in all sorts of ways . . . But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or 'carriers' of (Messiah) to other men . . . Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important . . .”
Becoming part of Yahweh’s new community is more than a private relationship with Yahshua. It means we're no longer independent individuals before Yahweh, but now individuals-in-community before Him. Think of Paul's illustration of the Body in 1 Corinthians 12. A dismembered body is dead. A warring Body is disfunctional. The church is a body that needs to be working together. Think also about Paul's letters to churches. How often do we remember they are written to a group of people? Instead of thinking, "What is Yahweh saying to me in this passage" we should change our mindset to ask, "What is Yahweh saying to us and what are we going to do about it".
"Fellowship" needs a focus - that focus is Yahshua. Let's gather around Him as members of His Body. We are connected with Him and with each other. Living that connection is fellowship.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches...
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