The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. We need encouragement and support from other believers.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The value of fellowship
There is enormous value in linking into a local church and also a small group. Believers who are not connected into a church group tend to become indifferent toward God. The Christian walk is not easy and we need each other to live effectively for the kingdom. Fellowship should bring:
- Instruction and guidance from the Word.
- A place of shared fellowship, friendship and love.
- Opportunity to get support and input from fellow believers in navigating life’s challenges.
- It is a place where you find out about your spiritual giftings and learn to serve.
The challenges of fellowship
If you have previously had a bad experience with a church, leader or group, it is important to process that by acknowledging it (perhaps sharing your story with someone) and forgiving the people involved. It is not healthy to isolate yourself from God or Christian fellowship because of previous bad experiences.
You may live in a place where there are very limited options for fellowship, particularly if you live in a place where Christians are persecuted. There is no easy answer but ask the Lord to connect you to some other believers in your community and have faith that He knows your needs. Remember there is no perfect church anywhere.
Finding a place of fellowship
- Does the fellowship believe in the basics of our faith? eg: the virgin birth of Jesus, Jesus as God, salvation by faith through grace alone, death and resurrection of Jesus?
- Does the Word of God take priority? Acts 20:27, 1 Timothy 4:13-16, 2 Timothy 4:1-5
- What type of preaching is available – topical, expository, evangelistic, inspirational? Is there a “balanced diet” in terms of preaching?
- Is it a praying church?
- Does the church reach out to nonbelievers and share the gospel?
- Does the church give priority to being led by the Holy Spirit?
- Is the church a place where you can use the giftings God has given you.
- Does it fit with where you are at in life in terms of children or no children etc?
Some actions to take
- If you are in a church, then it is still good to connect to a small group in that church.
- If there is no suitable small group in the church, then can you start one or support someone else to start one? You might find some suitable resources to help on the resource page.
- If it is difficult to find a suitable church which may be an issue related to the country/place you live, then pray about your need for fellowship and trust the Lord for an answer.
- As a minimum aim to meet and pray with at least one person on a regular basis.
Remember it is not all about what the Church can do for you but what you can do to serve the Lord and His kingdom.
Many churches have one style of preaching and having input for only 1+ hours on a Sunday is not enough. Just as we need a healthy balanced food diet, so it is good to have a wide range of healthy spiritual input and teaching. Once you understand the basics of your faith, look for good Bible teaching online and elsewhere to supplement the input you receive, however, this should not replace the personal time you spend with God.
If you are not already connected to a church, then pray and ask the Lord’s leading to find a suitable group and start looking, while accepting that some compromise in expectations may be necessary. If you are in a church but not in a small group, then start a process to find one or start one.