I turned on the news recently and there was a story about a fourth grader who had just won the National Spelling Bee. The word he spelled for the win was “koinonia.” The newscasters had never heard the word and looked up the definition, which they read aloud, “Christian fellowship or communion, with God or, more commonly, with fellow Christians.” They went on to express their thoughts about never hearing the word. Certainly, they have never experienced it!
Lately fellowship is lacking in my life from what it has been in the past. Moving away from family and friends, establishing new relationships, trying to do ministry in an unfamiliar place and looking for a church home all have seemed daunting at times over the past 18 months. Yet, the Lord is giving me some sweet times of fellowship with a few new friends, and for that I am really grateful.
Last Friday afternoon I bid farewell to a woman the Lord allowed me to influence for 10 months. For our 1-on-1 times I would often take the subway to midtown Manhattan and meet her at the park outside of her office. We would have lunch, share life, read the Word and pray together. She was eager to learn and to pass along her faith to her co-workers and peers. We shared our lives and the Gospel of God (1 Thess. 2:8). We had opportunities to share the Gospel, serve others, encourage one another and grow together spiritually. Hugging her tightly, the tears cascaded down my face. It seemed that one more piece of me was being torn away. I will miss those times of fellowship and seeing her grow. While not all discipling relationships provide life-giving fellowship, it is sweet when they occur. We can’t rely on this, however, as our primary source of fellowship.
My favorite passage describing fellowship is Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.” If I were sitting at your kitchen table with you, I would encourage you to think about the following ideas regarding fellowship. I am using these suggestions in my season of life as well!
- We are made for relationships. Don’t try to live your life alone or isolated from other believers. It can be tempting to think that you are the only person in the world who has ever felt loneliness, experienced sorrow, been frustrated, been in pain, gotten angry or (fill in the blank_____). Independence and isolation can be dangerous. We need one another and were created to relate to God and to people. That is part of the definition of fellowship.
- Initiate. This can be difficult when you are weary from life, marriage, children, and ministry. It is worth the risk of initiating again and again, even when you don’t feel you can do it, especially if it’s been painful in the past. One of the most challenging issues in ministry is the seemingly constant need to be the initiator in relationships. Sometimes I need to force myself to take that first step and often there is the benefit of a friend responding positively.
- Pray. Pray that the Lord would bring people to you that would be encouraging and “cup fillers” with whom you can minister with/to and who can minister to you!
- Relate to like-minded and like-hearted people. Often churches host MOPS or have Bible studies targeted to Moms with children in the home which provide time for you and childcare too. Bible Study Fellowship is a community opportunity to find other like-minded moms. This Mommy Missionary Blog, FB and Instagram groups are, hopefully, an avenue to let you know you are loved and not alone. They are a place where we can speak truth to one another as well as to encourage one another. It is a joy to see conversations taking place on the site where someone asks a question and others respond.
- Use technology to your benefit When there is no one we might see or touch in person we can always make good use of technology. We can call, Skype, Facetime, or text someone with whom we can have “virtual fellowship.” It’s amazing how often a call or text can be the encouragement we need on a tough day. And as we reach out it may serve another as a bit of encouragement. Perhaps you are participating in one of the “Who Am I” study groups this summer or would be encouraged by joining a “Route 66” Bible study in the fall.
It was said of the early church that,“they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). It is my prayer that we can be women who experience that kind of fellowship as we “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Hebrews 10:24-25)