I have a tendency to wander around various blog sites and I find it interesting to see what others have to say. I came across the following, via Facebook, and its title alone was intriguing…………………………… I invite you to read it before we go any further.
Towards the end of the blog the chap observes that he “also realised that a good percentage of church – any church – is made up of friendship, listening, singing, laughter, giving, receiving and cups of tea.”
Earlier this week in a conversation with a church member I was informed that Church isn’t about having fellowship but is about worship. I wonder ?
The person I was speaking to was indicating that for them worship was all that mattered and, indeed, over the years I`ve known them I cannot recall any major interaction between them and others within the Church. Whilst being one of the leading lights of that particular Church they saw no reason to spend a great deal of time with others. Another member of the same place made the observation to me that there wasn`t enough fellowship and the Church would be better for it.
Roman Catholic Church Ripley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I wonder where you stand on this issue. For me I sway towards the latter view and not just in that particular place, but throughout the Christian world. One of our greatest metaphysical poets, John Donne, coined that famous line “no man is an island” and a great truth was recognised. God hasn`t made us to live along but in community with others, for its often from such community that we get our strength, support and encouragement to keep going. When John Wesley began his movement called Methodism he didn`t see a new Church, but a community from which a relationship with Jesus was possible. Indeed the early Methodist meetings were referred to as `society` meetings or `fellowship` meetings recognising the need to be at one with others.
I don`t think it was any co-incidence that Jesus chose 12 men to travel with him (although I know it was the accepted practise of Rabbis in his day). When Jesus said “Upon this rock I will build my church” I really don`t think he had the Methodist Church, nor the Anglican or Roman Catholic Churches in mind; I don`t even think he was trying to inspire any particular denomination, but he was trying to create a community on which all community could be modelled; a community which would reflect his gifts of love and support, care and compassion, equality and fairness.
Consequently, our churches should be such communities, and to remove any aspect of fellowship from them is to deny the intention of Jesus.
In this sense the atheist Church has probably got it right and priorities of cups of tea, chatter and so on DO matter for they enable the community to come together to worship.
However the danger to watch out for is when a Church becomes too focussed on fellowship matters to the exclusion or minimization of worship. I`ve known Churches who would spend hours debating the next social occasion and what type of sandwiches to have, but who wouldn`t discuss the possibility of change within worship. It’s too easy to turn our community into a social club and we must beware of that.
A balance needs to be achieved but don`t lets reject fellowship; lets allow it to become the means of evangelism.