Fellowship is Much Deeper than Eating Donuts After Sunday School

I taught a Sunday School Adult Ed class today which dug into the 3rd chapter of the book of Jonah, not your ordinary bible study for Mother’s Day!  I always start out with a short introduction time so that people can get to know each other better.  Today I asked each person to share a meaningful memory of their mother. 

The memories our classmates shared were so poignant, so moving, and/or so wonderful that I cannot stop thinking about them, now some 12 hours later.  My shared memory was about how my mother stepped in to coach my junior high basketball team when our coach was ill.

This classroom experience has caused me to dig into the purpose and meaning of “fellowship” in the context of church. Fellowship is Much Deeper than Eating Donuts After Sunday School.  We talk about “fellowship” so often that the English word may become empty, sort of a generalization for nothing more than simply describing when the church gets together, usually in social settings.  We even speak of meeting in the “fellowship hall” for donuts after the worship service.  But what really does “fellowship” mean in the context of being the “church”?

The New Testament has a lot to say about “fellowship.” Acts 2:48 – “All believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship (koinonia), and to sharing in meals”; and I John 1:3 – “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship (koinonia) with us.  Our fellowship (koinonia) is with the father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”   Use “common mindedness” instead of “fellowship” in the above passages and you see why I have focused on how “non-donuty” this word “fellowship” really is.  Fellowship is Much Deeper than Eating Donuts After Sunday School

The Greek word used in all of these passages is koinonia which is a compound word formed by koine (“common”) and nous (“mind”) – hence, koinonia has at its root, a sense of “common mindedness” which to me is way deeper than  “fellowship.”  And what might the topics be that we in the church are called to have a “common mind” about?

“In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Love” is a well known formula for deciding on doctrinal “negotiables” and “non-negotiables.”  So, is it fair to suggest that the church should have a “common mind” as to “essentials” and enjoy “liberty” and “love” in all other areas?  Defining what are the essentials of course is a daunting task.  We have 1000’s of denominations of churches which have begun due to a split over something deemed “essentials.” 

This old joke:  a shipwrecked man being rescued from a deserted island where he has lived alone for decades is asked, “Sir, I notice you built three buildings on this island; one looks like your house and the other two look like churches.  Why two churches?”  The rescued man: “Well, I had some theological problems with the first church, so I had to find a new church.”  Deciding what should be koinonia of the church is certainly a hugely important issue and not to be undertaken lightly.

A focus of The Merton Prayer is our goal of aiming to “please God” in everything we do.  Choosing whom to have koinonia with and what is deemed “essential” for measuring “common mindedness” are clearly very important issues.  I love donuts, too much for sure, but Fellowship is Much Deeper than Eating Donuts After Sunday School!!  May God bless you this week as you seek and enjoy koinonia with God and with significant others in your life!

[NOTE:  If your organization, church, or school would like a workshop/presentation on The Merton Prayer please use the contact tab and let me know!  I can Zoom all over the world and have done 90-minute, 3-hour, 5-hour, weekend, or five-day workshops/retreats.]

Leave a comment, if you wish, regarding this post or how you found The Merton Prayer and why it is important to you.  Thanks for visiting http://www.TheMertonPrayer.com!

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