Introduction to church fellowship
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, He later returned to heaven. For ten days after His ascension, the disciples gathered together and prayed. Jesus had told them to wait in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49) until they were filled by the Holy Spirit and equipped with power from on high. So all of them in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer until they would see this promise being fulfilled (Acts 1:13-14).
On the tenth day, the day of Pentecost, something dramatic happened: Suddenly a sound as of a mighty rushing wind filled the house. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. They spoke of the wonderful works of God.
A lot of Jerusalem came running, being confused, when they heard the noise. Peter explained what happened and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. 3000 people were saved that day, and that was the birth of the church. What a spectacular first day.
But how did they manage to keep the revival, to live close to God and keep doing His will? And how did they manage to take care of all the new believers? How did the first Christians live? What did they do when they got together? What was their fellowship like?
Acts 2:42-47 answers some of these questions, so let us read together: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The four principles in verse 2 are often called the 4 pillars of the church. To repeat, it is the apostles’ doctrine – which is the Bible, fellowship – which means to gather together in unity, the breaking of bread and prayers. We will touch briefly on them here, and you can also find separate teachings on all of these topics.
A Christian fellowship is more than just having a hobby in common, more than a sports fan club or a book reading club...
The Word of God is essential to all Christian fellowship. It is a guide for all believers, both individually and in community. In His second letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16-17, Paul writes this about the Word of God: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2.Timothy 3:16-17).
There is nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It teaches us what is true, what to believe, exposes our rebellion and corrects our mistakes and trains us to live God’s way (The Message). Reading the Bible together should be a natural part of any Christian fellowship, whether it is a big church or a small housegroup. It is in the Word of God that we find teaching in God’s way of life.
Breaking of bread
The early church shared meals together in connection with the fellowship. We can also read about Jesus sharing meals with various groups of people. Throughout history and different cultures, sharing a meal has always been a way to connect and have fellowship together.
But in a Christian fellowship it has even more meaning. Breaking bread together in this connection is a special way to remind ourselves of Jesus’ death and how His body was broken for our sake, and His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. At His last supper with the disciples, Jesus told them to break the bread and drink the wine as a proclamation of His death until He comes again.
It is a personal reminder of the relationship between God and each person, but it is also a reminder of being knit together as believers, in fellowship in Christ’s body and blood.
Prayer is a way God provided for Christians to come into His presence. Psalm 100:4 says that we should enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. So worship, praise and thanksgiving is part of our communal and individual prayer-time before the throne of God. When we start a gathering by praising God, we also become more in tune with God and more easily led by His Holy Spirit.
Through prayer we receive help, needed guidance and strength for our lives, from God. Jesus said in Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as my followers], I am there among them” (AMP). Praying together is powerful, and is a natural part of any gathering of believers.
All of the above are things that should be natural to do in a fellowship of believers. And already it hints at the fact that a Christian fellowship is more than just having a hobby in common, more than a sports fan club or a book reading club.
A fellowship of believers is both a horizontal and a vertical fellowship through the Holy Spirit, with a unity created by the Holy Spirit. The first believers committed themselves very literally to fellowship and unity with God and with one another. With Jesus Christ our Lord in the centre of our fellowships, it doesn’t matter much if we ourselves are similar or different. Because Jesus is our Lord, and God is our Father, we are a family.
All of us are also being transformed to be more and more like Jesus. We can agree or disagree on a number of different things, styles, tastes and so on, but the family is still a family. God loves all of us, and we should also love our brothers and sisters – even when we disagree. But this deep connection starts with each of us giving ourselves first unreservedly to God, and then to each other. Our fellowship and unity is then created by the Holy Spirit.
In this supernatural way, we can fell related to Christians all over the world, because we are all part of the same body, the same family, the same unity in the Spirit.
Find your own fellowship of believers
God created us for relationships, and being a part of a Christian fellowship is an important part of Christian living. That fellowship can be a church or just a few believers gathering together in their homes – like the first believers did. But any Christian fellowship should build on these 4 main principles: The Bible, Breaking the Bread together, Prayer and worship, and this deep connection of Fellowship. If you are a part of church, that is great, but even then it is helpful in our Christian walk to gather together in smaller groups and share this fellowship.
If you haven’t found a church to be a part of, maybe you could find, or start a house group of fellow believers where you are. If you need help in this, contact us, and we can try to help you forward. You will also find more teaching about each of these 4 topics. The important thing to remember is to first give yourself fullheartedly to God, and then give yourself to the fellowship of other believers.