Dear Church Family,
It’s going to be cold tomorrow. For some, it will be tempting to sleep in.
The series we’ve been teaching through is on spiritual disciplines. At times, it seems, we struggle to understand and embrace these disciplines. A first step is to grasp what is meant by the term “discipline”. In this context, it should be understood as a practice that we commit to in order to position ourselves for God’s best. We should also accept that introducing these disciplines into our lives is not easy – if it were, it would not require discipline. Many, if not all, of them are counter-cultural and unnatural to us.
Tomorrow, I’ve changed the topic we will explore. After several weeks of challenging instruction that called for self-denial – fasting, simplicity, submission – I decided the original topic, the discipline of solitude, may have been too much to handle. Now we will study a discipline not mentioned in The Celebration of Discipline but critically important to the health of the individual believer and the church as a whole – the discipline of fellowship.
Scripture defines this fellowship as Koinonia (Greek). Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.
Philippians 2:1-2 declares, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. First John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
How do we put the discipline of fellowship into practice?
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. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
We practice the discipline of fellowship when we gather with other believers. This means, among other things, we go to church – even when it’s cold outside, even when we’ve had a hard week, even when the Titans are at home, even when … fill in the blank. We go because we need the fellowship; we go because it is our opportunity to encourage others.
According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of people say they go to church every week, but statistics show that fewer than 20 percent actually attend. More than 4,000 churches close their doors every year. Between 2010 and 2012, half of all churches in the U.S. did not add any new members. Each year 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity.
This introduction to tomorrow’s message means I should be able to have us out much earlier than in recent weeks.
Tomorrow, we’ll have an opportunity to practice the discipline of fellowship. (I’ll acknowledge this may be a little selfish on my part.) Since fellowship involves doing life together in the good times and in the hard times, I’m inviting you to fellowship with us – in particular with Janice.
– It is her 55th birthday. I’m bringing cake, so that we can celebrate with her.
– Her mother will be released from NHC rehab, not because she is ready for release, but because she has exhausted her Medicare benefits. Janice is very concerned about her parents’ wellbeing. We can encourage her.
– We meet our son Brian’s new girlfriend for the first time. We can be nervous with her.
I know others also have things to celebrate and prayer concerns. If you’d like to share them with me, feel free to call or email me. Please mark those items that are confidential, so that I may treat them as such. (cell # 848-3834; email, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other Fellowship Aids
The attached link (https://churchtraconline.com/member_access.php?church=6158483834) provides you a way to access our church database. Take time to set up you account and update your profile (pictures would be great). Once you’ve activated you account, you’ll be able to find phone numbers, email addresses and other information – whatever our families have chosen to make public. You also will have access to your contribution records, calendars, and more.
I hope to bring printed copies of our church “directory” tomorrow too.
Important (5 minute) Meeting
Any with even a slight interest in knowing more about our summer mission trip to the Dominican Republic should meet me at the front of the Worship Center immediately after the service tomorrow.
Critical Ministry Need
Recent attrition has ravaged our preschool and children’s ministry rotation. Volunteers are now having to work once monthly. My goal is that no one would be required to work more than once per quarter unless they want to. To accomplish this we need most of our adults and teenagers to take a turn.
We are also looking for 2 childcare workers for 8:30 am. A new young adult small group is meeting now and need regular workers to care for their children. This could be a paid opportunity (a great way to raise money for your mission trip). At least one of these workers should be an adult.
Last Week’s Challenge
We were all challenged last Sunday to ask God to bring someone to mind that we could invite to church this week. It’s not too late if you haven’t done so.