I don't have a list of Bible verses (in which I know there's a good amount) that talk about fellowship with other believers. Tonight I've been pondering how important it is to get connected and stay surrounded by other believers. live life with others. grow together. but I'm getting ahead of myself here. let's talk about it. and i would love to hear your input.
benefits of fellowship are numerous and i will loose count and space for this post if i mention each and every one of them. there has been so many times in my life where fellowship has been helpful, beneficial, and encouraging in my walk. and I'm sure you have plenty of examples as well. i live by analogy, so that's the best way I'll walk through these thoughts, so bare with me (or not).
there was a time in my childhood where i wanted nothing to do with going to the service. I wanted to go to the nursery and help them out with the babies. i was three. they told me, "some day you will get to serve in here but today your job is to learn about God and how you can better serve Him." It wasn't exactly like that, but remember people I was only three.
then there was the age where i was so bored in church (and wednesday night classes) i would doodle on anything that was paper. now looking back I cringe at all the information i could of soaked in. but that was then. my fellowship then consisted of hanging out with friends and making sure people liked me. (Sounds like school to me.)
but then I fell in love with Jesus and my relationship with Him grew. He wasn't just the man on the cross behind the pastor preaching those thousands of messages. I longed to be in fellowship each week. my heart would ache when i would be away from my home church. those years of fellowship and growth were (and are) amazing!! I had fellowship and friends at church not because I was well liked and showing off, but now I was the one being real. I had true friends and a long list of people older and younger than me that I came to fellowship with. The benefit of fellowship grew to serving in the church. I went on mission trips, served in the nursery, babysat during Bible studies, became a Sunday School teacher one summer, helped and taught at VBS, involved in skits, and volunteered numerous years with the preschoolers on Wednesday nights. My life was full of fellowship and my ability to have it overflow to other parts of my life were anything but dry.
When I became an adult my fellowship shifted and changed. It was different and blessed me in new ways. I changed churches (on my own) and that alone was fruitful. It brought my faith to a new level---my own! I drove past my parent's church to attend my own, even though I still lived with them. I was involved in adult small groups and I was finding my true identity with Christ. My fellowship changed to new heights and it was cool to see what all God had in store.
*Note the church I left wasn't bad. It was something I had to do for myself. It was part of my journey of independence.
Fellowship as an adult changed and so did my time. My free time to serve changed and my ability to fellowship with others became more of a need. I had less time to be so involved like before, but had the desire to get involved. I shifted to more skits, leading a small group, being IN my own small group, and being on a worship team. I enjoyed going to church every Sunday. I loved the community, fellowship, and love.
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Now my fellowship as a married woman has shifted again. However in new ways, not bad just different. :) When Jon and I first got married we traveled a lot and we attended three churches for the most part. It wasn't consistent. But we were involved in a small group and we got plugged in to the Word and that's what was important. We had fellowship with other newlyweds. Our marriage wasn't ever rocky but in the consistent same-church department I would say so! We have two churches right now. One in Ames that we know is a good Bible-preaching church. One here we attend while living with my parents (the one I attended "on my own" before we got married). But there's been plenty more changes in church-going because of the move to Cedar Rapids, etc etc. But moving on to now motherhood changes.....
As a mom it's not convenient for me to lead a small group or volunteer in children's ministry when my baby would have to be babysat for me to do so. But I can serve in other ways. I can get together with other moms and have play dates (not necessarily woman from my church), or serve in the nursery on Sunday mornings. I can find plenty of options for me as a mom of a young child where I can still be a wife and mom but be able to fellowship with others. Now I can even love on those who have lost babies. Or I can pray every time I nurse Ellie for the barren women or for someone who needs extra prayer. Just because my fellowship (and service) has looked different over the past 20 years, does not mean I can't fellowship. God sees it as fellowship. He sees my heart. He knows it better than I do. He knows where I stumble and fall. He picks me back up and I am able to stand again in fellowship with others.
I long for that fellowship. I long for that Sunday morning service and community. I love keeping in touch with others. I love being able to serve and walk along side someone in their life. I just want to be there with them and for them. That's fellowship.
What does fellowship look like for you? Has it changed over the years in your life like it has mine?
What does fellowship mean to you?