The word “fellowship” means something a little different in the original language and context than our modern meaning. When we talk about fellowship, we’re thinking about hanging out, chatting, catching up on the news, maybe eating a meal together. And all of those things are integral to the idea. But fellowship, in the New Testament church means something more.
The word that is translated “fellowship” in Acts 2:42 is the same word you might use for “a business enterprise,” or “partnership.” The whole idea of fellowship is that this is an enterprise. It has a purpose, a set of goals and objects, common practices, best practices, standards of behavior…policies and procedures. It’s a thing. And (by virtue of being the people of God) we’re all in this thing together.
Here are just a few of the inferences of this idea:
- Each individual has certain roles and responsibilities. These are determined by things like Spiritual gifting (which you can find in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, among other places), maturity, and personal testimony (both within the local church and out in the greater community).
- The Lord fits people and gifting together within an assembly to achieve His overall purposes. So, there are individual roles and there are corporate roles and activities (serving, praying, teaching, evangelism, shepherding, administration). Some people do public things. Some people work behind the scenes. The Lord values all of it, because we are not here for our purposes—we’re here for His.
- Our work is interconnected. A big part of each Christian’s responsibility in the assembly is to support our brothers and sisters in their responsibilities. So, a teacher doesn’t just teach what the Bible says. He also teaches how to study (and teach) the Bible. An evangelist doesn’t just go out and preach to the lost. He also trains the brethren in the tactics and skills of evangelism (in 2 Timothy 4, Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist”).
- Our work has three focuses. As an assembly and as individuals, our first responsibility is to glorify God, lifting up His Son in worship. Our second responsibility is to use Spiritual giving, as the Lord directs, to serve the spiritual, physical, and practical needs of our brothers and sisters in fellowship. Our third responsibility is to show the lost souls of a fallen world the way to the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is just a taste of the implications of fellowship. We’re all in this together. We all have a job to do. The Lord is pleased when we do our work with joyful obedience.
The idea of fellowship is a big part of why we launched Parenthesis. We want to create a forum in which Millennial Christians can meet, get to know, and become friends with others like them, across the region and around the world.
We want to create a safe, nonjudgmental environment in which people can exchange ideas, ask hard questions, hash things out, and come closer to the person of Jesus Christ as a result.
We want to build a community of believers, who can be helpful to each other, as each becomes more useful to the Lord (in the world and in the local assembly).
And we want to create a resource, where you can be encouraged by good thinking, good discussion, and helpful teaching. We want to stimulate fellowship.
Come back from time to time, as we invite various people to post essays, articles, and insights in this blog space. Join in the conversation via comments and testimonials.
Come out to a Parenthesis conference (the first one is May 27-29 at Mountain Top Youth Camp, in Pinnacle, NC).
Alan Gamble will be the primary speaker. He’s a judge and attorney from Scotland. Honestly, I have learned something every time I’ve been around Alan. And, he has been a huge encouragement to me.
Michael Donahue will also be speaking. He’s a very bright young man, interested in apologetics. He’s got some great stories. And some great insights. He’s also funny. Whenever I’m around him, I walk away thinking how awesome the Lord is to bring such interesting people into our lives.
And David Nicholson is simply remarkable in his ability to use educational methodology (directed self discovery) to lead you into the Word of God, help you discover a taste for the things of the Lord, and then let you feed on them. David has been helping Millennials (unchurched college students) discover the Bible, discover the Lord, come to know Him and grow in Him for several years. It’ll be a blast to see what he does with the small groups at Parenthesis.
Jump in. Join the Revelation. We can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do next!
Parenthesis is a New Testament assembly work, created to inspire Millennials to look into the person of Jesus Christ, by looking into the Bible. Find out about (and register for) upcoming events here.