Cultivating Fellowship within the Church
In today's modern church, true fellowship is often lacking. As group dynamics takes place, people naturally form into groups. This is plainly observed both in and out of the church. This point was driven home during a recent conference I attended. Three hundred and seventy-five Christian writers assembled together for five days, and I was amazed at how easy it was to get to know others. Everyone was eager to know each other, and within hours, we were sitting together and talking about our Christian walks and other interests. In a few days, I got to know more people, and had deeper fellowship, than I have experienced in church in the last three or four years.
This caused me to wonder. Why is it so hard to get to know people in church? When a visitor comes in, everyone rushes to greet them. They feel welcomed and often it results in a decision to join the local congregation. Each person looks at the church and asks one basic question: Will I find belonging here.
People have different reasons by which they evaluate church. Some are looking for benefits and look to church as a service provider. But every single person has a need for belonging. This is not a selfish attitude; it is something God has built within us. God never intended Christians to operate independent of each other. There are times when a Christian stands alone in the culture, but it is not God's plan to make him or her stand alone in the church. God gives grace to endure isolation when it's necessary, but the church is not something we should endure.
What I have observed in the group dynamics of almost every church I have been involved with is a series of closed circles - or cliques. Many people do not even realize they are cliquish, because they go out of their way to give a smile and a handshake. It is those who stand outside the circles that recognize the emptiness of standing alone. When people feel at home in their circle of frien ...
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