Life Without Fellowship?

I got this question today. It was sent to me by someone who used the title ‘Apostle and Pastor’ in front of his name. He needed both—in caps! Interesting…

How do you reconcile these scriptures in light of your view of fellowship.

Matt 28:18-20
Acts 2:42-47
Hebrews 10:25

If it is true that you can walk in Christ without fellowship, that means it’s time for you to start a fellowship so you can help those who are not so strong.

While I appreciated the brevity, I find the context absurd. I can’t imagine anyone reading my website thinking that I encourage people to walk with Jesus without fellowship. That’s nuts! I encourage fellowship all the time, but in real relationships with people, not by sitting in your pew once a week watching others around you.

And I can’t imagine anyone reading those three texts and understanding their historical context who would think they obligate people to ‘start fellowships’ or be in a required meeting. People who hunger for the living God don’t need to be obligated to anything. Their hunger for him will lead them to all the people he wants them to connect with.

Here’s how I answered him:

Who said anything about walking with Christ without fellowship? I can gather with other Christians and help new ones grow in the faith by just having fellowship with those God asks me to walk beside in any given season. I don’t have to ‘start a fellowship’ for that. If you read carefully I’m not advocating a lack of fellowship, but I am indicating that walking with people is far more important than starting or maintaining a group. We’d like to think they are the same but they are not. History proves that.

So the Scriptures you cite are all lived out in greater reality, depth and power when we’re not caught up in the mechanics of a group and simple walk in deep friendship and love with whomever God puts in our life. Sometimes that puts me in a room with hundreds of people, sometimes just tow or three.

Jesus, nor the early apostles did not view the life of the church as a series of meetings on Sunday morning or Wednesday night that are led from the front, but vibrant relationships that wrestle with the deep issues of life and magnify God in doing so!

And it doesn’t bother me of people want to get together at a regular place in a regular way. That’s an expression of this family too! It just isn’t the only expression and not necessarily the best. Scripture never points to believers gathered in rows to witness a meeting led by a few. It pictures people meeting together to share insights and ask questions, to share Jesus’ gifts, to build each other up and to share the burdens of life together.

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10 Comments
  1. todd January 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    found this person’s assumption a little disturbing….haven’t got the impression of you touting “believer’s not needing fellowship,” …not one lick….but rather God’s total ability to put people on our path and teach us how to have deeper more genuine fellowship….and that it does not always have to look like weekend meeting in a building, facing forward toward the folks up front….not that that is always bad….just that there are plenty of God-breathed ways for folks to grow in Jesus.

    T

  2. todd January 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    found this person’s assumption a little disturbing….haven’t got the impression of you touting “believer’s not needing fellowship,” …not one lick….but rather God’s total ability to put people on our path and teach us how to have deeper more genuine fellowship….and that it does not always have to look like weekend meeting in a building, facing forward toward the folks up front….not that that is always bad….just that there are plenty of God-breathed ways for folks to grow in Jesus.

    T

  3. Ruth January 5, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Wow, this is so true, i soooo needed to be reminded of this this morning. Life flows directly from Him and out from us to whomever and whereever. It’s all about partaking of His life and giving it to others, freely and without the restraints of religion that seem to forsake the life that could be in favor of religion. Wayne I love what you said, our hunger will lead us to connect with others that God wants us connected with. We have to recognize this and let this unfold because it sure will. I have found this to be true and I also found I am so grateful for every single person who i have had such life giving encounters with. It’s totally different without religion, becuase it truly is all about relationship and seeking life in Him and thru Him and with others. This becomes the focus. This was so refreshing , Ruth

  4. Shannon Kuhns January 5, 2008 at 11:08 am

    It’s amazing how quick some people can be to argue a point when they clearly haven’t researched the views of the people they think they’re “arguing” with! You obviously both agree that fellowship is important. He just doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a lot more to fellowship than the back of your church neighbor’s head.

    My experiences outside of the system have been more about fellowship than anything I experienced in 30 years of meetings and lectures. I enjoy real conversations a little more than having someone meet me at the door on my way into a meeting who repeats “good morning” and smiles big. I can get that kind of fellowship from a flight attendant. 🙂

    We have a couple people in our lives who are quick to make assumptions about what it means that we don’t operate under the obligation of a weekly meeting or two. In fairness to those people, maybe those assumptions really would apply to them, if they skipped Sunday mornings in the pew. Luckily for my husband and I, the same assumptions don’t apply. I guess that’s like anything in life when others choose to project their own weakneses onto people they think they’re helping. It certainly doesn’t just apply to conversations about “going to church”.

    Shannon

  5. Ruth January 5, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Wow, this is so true, i soooo needed to be reminded of this this morning. Life flows directly from Him and out from us to whomever and whereever. It’s all about partaking of His life and giving it to others, freely and without the restraints of religion that seem to forsake the life that could be in favor of religion. Wayne I love what you said, our hunger will lead us to connect with others that God wants us connected with. We have to recognize this and let this unfold because it sure will. I have found this to be true and I also found I am so grateful for every single person who i have had such life giving encounters with. It’s totally different without religion, becuase it truly is all about relationship and seeking life in Him and thru Him and with others. This becomes the focus. This was so refreshing , Ruth

  6. Fram January 5, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    This reminds me so much of the responses I would get when I told people that we were homeschooling our four sons. “Won’t they miss out on the social side of public school? Are they going to feel isolated?” My answer was always “No!”. We had several families working together to facilitate curriculum, events and field trips. We attended a church with a good Sunday School. They had their neighborhood friends. Our life was less regulated by the dictates of ‘officials’ who did not know us and more focused on learning at a relaxed pace. We could get the same amount of learning accomplished in half a day than what was done in a full day of school without a multitude of distractions.

    Wouldn’t it seem to be the same if we alllowed a more natural development of relationships in neighborhoods and businesses?

  7. Shannon Kuhns January 5, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    It’s amazing how quick some people can be to argue a point when they clearly haven’t researched the views of the people they think they’re “arguing” with! You obviously both agree that fellowship is important. He just doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a lot more to fellowship than the back of your church neighbor’s head.

    My experiences outside of the system have been more about fellowship than anything I experienced in 30 years of meetings and lectures. I enjoy real conversations a little more than having someone meet me at the door on my way into a meeting who repeats “good morning” and smiles big. I can get that kind of fellowship from a flight attendant. 🙂

    We have a couple people in our lives who are quick to make assumptions about what it means that we don’t operate under the obligation of a weekly meeting or two. In fairness to those people, maybe those assumptions really would apply to them, if they skipped Sunday mornings in the pew. Luckily for my husband and I, the same assumptions don’t apply. I guess that’s like anything in life when others choose to project their own weakneses onto people they think they’re helping. It certainly doesn’t just apply to conversations about “going to church”.

    Shannon

  8. Fram January 5, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    This reminds me so much of the responses I would get when I told people that we were homeschooling our four sons. “Won’t they miss out on the social side of public school? Are they going to feel isolated?” My answer was always “No!”. We had several families working together to facilitate curriculum, events and field trips. We attended a church with a good Sunday School. They had their neighborhood friends. Our life was less regulated by the dictates of ‘officials’ who did not know us and more focused on learning at a relaxed pace. We could get the same amount of learning accomplished in half a day than what was done in a full day of school without a multitude of distractions.

    Wouldn’t it seem to be the same if we alllowed a more natural development of relationships in neighborhoods and businesses?

  9. Vic January 9, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    One of the most frequently used proof-texts used to oppose those who have abandoned regular attendance of religious meetings is Hebrews 10:25. “Do not forsake the assembling of yourself together”.
    Perhaps this reproach targeted an audience of Jewish believers who were experiencing the same kind of guilt by departing from the old religious rules. They seem to have a parallel with us. Meetings and requirements and obligations were a ritual for them. “Hebrews” was illustrating a better way for them (the theme of the book). There was a new freedom to enjoy, but guilt was moving them back to the old way. The new way was for them to rub shoulders in meaningful relationship, considering each other and stirring each other up to good works and love. This was revolutionary thinking compared to the lawful requirements. The “better way” was love-based not obligation-based.
    So the “forsaking” part of not meeting together could well have referred to an abandonment of the new way instead of the old way. The purpose of the meeting together was to strengthen each other in our confession, not our denominational bias.

  10. Vic January 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    One of the most frequently used proof-texts used to oppose those who have abandoned regular attendance of religious meetings is Hebrews 10:25. “Do not forsake the assembling of yourself together”.
    Perhaps this reproach targeted an audience of Jewish believers who were experiencing the same kind of guilt by departing from the old religious rules. They seem to have a parallel with us. Meetings and requirements and obligations were a ritual for them. “Hebrews” was illustrating a better way for them (the theme of the book). There was a new freedom to enjoy, but guilt was moving them back to the old way. The new way was for them to rub shoulders in meaningful relationship, considering each other and stirring each other up to good works and love. This was revolutionary thinking compared to the lawful requirements. The “better way” was love-based not obligation-based.
    So the “forsaking” part of not meeting together could well have referred to an abandonment of the new way instead of the old way. The purpose of the meeting together was to strengthen each other in our confession, not our denominational bias.

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