How to Have Incredible Fellowship in Your Church, part 1

I know a man who was on staff at a large church in the south. He fell immorally. Although he repented and desired to change, his church leadership booted him out. And his whole family. They weren’t welcome anymore.

What are the fellowship times like at your church? What are the fellowship times like for you with other individuals? Do you ever wish the fellowship got deeper? Do you ever wish you could allow just a few people to find out who the real you is–knowing they would still love you?

I think there are so many things about real fellowship that we miss. The kind of fellowship the Bible talks about.

Authentic fellowship.

It turns surface relationships into tight bonds. Acquaintances into brothers/sisters who would give their lives for one another.

This kind of fellowship upholds the people of God. It’s more than accountability. It’s living life together.

This same man who fell immorally told me he wished he had authentic fellowship years ago. He believes that kind of fellowship would have saved him from the heartache he brought upon himself, his family, and his church.

I know a lady who has been in her church for a several years. Difficult things are happening in her life that she can’t bear alone. But she feels alone.

Perhaps you feel this way at your church? Authentic fellowship is incredible. But it’s not easy to accomplish.

Wanna see how it’s done?

Over the next several days, I want to take a good look at what Scripture calls fellowship. And I invite you to compare what Jesus says fellowship is with what you currently experience in your life–at your church. Compare the two so you can see what needs to be done to enjoy this beautiful gift from God.

How to Have Incredible Fellowship in Your Church is a series through the book of 1 John. This book is about fellowship.

You’ll begin to see how much we miss in our typical fellowship times. And you’ll want what you see in 1 John!

I’ll show you what I mean. Tomorrow! 🙂

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Here’s my book on fellowship specifically for guys. Check it out.

Click the pic below:

 

(2) Comments

  • Simon L Smith
    19 May 2012

    Chad,

    First, thanks for what you do. It is a privilege to watch you pursue your passions as you pursue God.

    Second, I look forward to your fellowship writings.

    Ericka and I are currently in a quandary over this very issue as we have historically felt – and currently feel – out of place at church.

    We got married young and didn’t fit in with the college class. We were married, with children, and they were not. They were trying to hook up. We were already hooked.

    We didn’t fit in with the young marrieds because we were poor college students and they were not. They were typically starting their careers and we were not yet.

    That led us to children’s ministry and youth ministry.

    As much as we liked – even loved – -the kids we didn’t really ”fellowship” with them or their parents.

    We were active in church, but we were not connected in church.

    Add to that the death of our son, Jude, and suddenly ”no one” knows how to even talk to you.

    We were the cool couple who worked with youth or the poor family who lost a child.

    What we were not (and are not) is connected.

    No lie, at one church we submitted the ”small group” information cards and never, even after several years, got an invite to a small group.

    At our last church a deacon asked for the elder’s help concerning his online activity. While not as severe as the story above, he realized that he was becoming less and less upset at his own behavior and wanted them to hold him accountable.

    He was open.

    He was honest.

    He was vulnerable.

    What did that get him? A witch hunt to have him removed from the children’s ministry were he volunteered with his daughter’s class.

    I totally get wanting to protect kids. I do.

    But I don’t get the assumption that a man who likes to look at naked women is also a pedophile.

    His openness, honesty and vulnerability got him shunned from fellowship. It did not create fellowship.

    We found the same ”shunning” when we went looking for help, prayer, and support for a very specific – and horrific – concern with a very specific family member.

    We did not find fellowship.

    What we found was that we were the only hurting people in that church.

    Everyone else, it seemed, was fine. Their lives were perfect. Only we were in need of anything.

    I know its not true, but we were treated as if we were the only two people in the church who were hurting.

    That was just a few sort years ago.

    At that same church Ericka and I were kicked out of a small group because she could not always go when I was out of town on business. Truly, instead of loving on her or supporting her while I was away they kicked her out.

    At our current church we are still out of place.

    We stated attending (but have yet to join) right before a huge shake up at the church.

    In the last year we lost the senior pastor (who had been there for 20+ years) and the youth pastor.

    We are not part of a Life/small group (we have not been invited and i only recently found out that we actually have them) and the only area that I was connected to was disbanded while I was out of the country on a business trip.

    Ericka has told people, including elders and their wives, that she is not connected and feels alone at this church when I am not there.

    And not just emotionally alone, but physically alone. After she told them this she sat in the lobby alone – physically alone – while no one even talked to her.

    When I told my class about this while in Atlanta a Christian and an atheist asked me why we still go there.

    With this confession, which was a bit more open and vulnerable than she is normally, nothing changed.

    Nothing.

    I would say we crave, to some degree, fellowship.

    It would appear that fellowship does not, however, crave us.

    The sad thing is that all three of the churches mentioned above really are great churches in a lot of ways.

    But fellowship is not one of those ways.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the rest of your fellowship series.

    God bless Chad.

    • J. Chad Barrett
      21 May 2012

      Simon, I really appreciate your openness. And I sympathize with what you and Ericka are going through. Fellowship is, indeed, lacking in so many churches. One reason is because we all wear our masks–there are no sinners in church. So when one actually shows his true self, he is shunned because it could easily draw others to remove their masks.

      It is sad and shameful. And it is unbiblical–sinful. Churches like this are being what Christ told us to be.

      The New Testament is filled with “one another’s.” But many churches avoid this kind of life. Authenticity is risky. Just like the example you shared.

      I am sorry you and Ericka have had these experiences. If anyone needs real fellowship, it’s you two. Simon, you said “fellowship doesn’t crave [you].” And I get what you are saying. But God does crave you. And He craves for His people to have fellowship with each other. He told us how.

      It hurts me to know that you and Ericka have been shunned–even when you tried to bring to light the lack of fellowship. But it doesn’t surprise me. The ironic thing is that biblical fellowship is really just common sense. We were created to have fellowship. We actually work hard at shunning it. Pretending to be someone else (thus, not being authentic) takes effort. Skill.

      Know that I am praying for you and your family, bro. Thanks for your note.

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