by Kevin Thomas (ikevinthomas.com)
How many times have you heard people use the word “fellowship” to talk about hanging out at lunch or an outing with another Christian?
The 21st century church’s definition of fellowship is woefully inadequate when compared to the biblical meaning. Today’s definition looks more like “hanging out” than it does like true spiritual “community”. The biblical definition of fellowship (koinonia) originally meant to unite with another for a kingdom cause (and hanging out happened on the side during down time).
But the church has kicked the primary reason for fellowship aside and made hanging out the main reason we come together. The New Testament word koinonia, translated fellowship, comes from a Greek word meaning to partner.
Therefore, a church fellowship, when done biblically, is really talking about believers coming together to form a partnership to advance Kingdom causes on earth.
Read Acts 2:42 in context and you’ll see that the first century Christians weren’t coming together just to hang out. They were uniting or partnering for kingdom causes, such as feeding and clothing the poor, learning the Scriptures, spreading the Gospel, and praying together.
As a result of their coming together, people’s needs were met and the believers became stronger Christians as they did Kingdom work through the church.
My point? True community results in spiritual growth among the participating members of the community. Hanging out doesn’t necessarily lead to meeting anyone’s needs, advancing the Kingdom or spiritual growth.
The next time you talk about getting together with someone determine whether it’s true biblical fellowship or just hanging out.
- Based on the above definition of fellowship, do you spend more time in true fellowship or just hanging out?
- What can you do to transform hanging out into true fellowship?
- How would investing more time into true fellowship help you grow spiritually?
- How could it make a positive difference in your church and city?