Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Fellowship

  • Jim Townsley
  • Jan 12, 2018
Christians in a new church enter into a wonderful and new relationship with Christ and their fellow believers. Often people have told me that they feel closer to their new friends in their church family than their own flesh and blood. Very often this is true. The Scriptural basis for this phenomenon is found in the first letter from the Apostle John. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. --1 John 1:3 -- A new church instinctively creates a church fellowship that is built upon a fellowship with Christ. This new found friendship with others seeking to grow in Christ provides confirmation, acceptance and encouragement to new converts. Fellowship with Christ that creates fellowship with other believers is an important part of every Christian’s personal growth and it should be nurtured by the pastor. Several ministries and many activities can be planned that encourage fellowship.
However, this wonderful new association with the family of God can become detrimental to the Lord’s work if it is not kept in perspective. There are concerns that a wise pastor must guard against in connection with the fellowship of believers. One concern is that cliques can form and friendships can be established that supersede their relationship with Christ. What in the beginning was greatly needed can become a hindrance to the furtherance of the gospel if not properly balanced and monitored.  
Here are some areas a new pastor must guard against:
1. Church members may enjoy fellowship with their friends at the exclusion of new visitors. Members must keep a sincere awareness for new people that are seeking help. If genuine love is not shown to them by the members of the church they will assume they are not wanted or needed in your church. Spiritually minded people will always be on the alert for visitors and people that are in need. A strong relationship with Christ will result in a strong concern for the lost! Friendships must not become stronger than their relationship with Christ.
2. Selfishness can lead to gossip resulting in division. A backslidden believer can do great harm to a church through contaminating his/her friends with a bad spirit. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
The preacher is an easy target for criticism because he must continually preach against sin and encourage people to change. If a member has a difference with the pastor or another member he should go to the pastor or the one offended to try to resolve the conflict. Criticism has no place in meaningful fellowship.
3. A disgruntled staff member can cause great harm and bring division to the church. Nothing has more potential to destroy the church than a disloyal staff member. Major problems can occur when anyone in a position of leadership abuses their authority by going to friends to sow seeds of discord.
4. Fellowship can become all important while soul-winning can take a back seat. Church suppers and home parties can become the main thing for some people. Occasionally the pastor may be unaware of some of the activities taking place without his approval. This is wrong and must be guarded against.
5. People can be led away into false teaching when fellowship supersedes ministry. False teaching is usually subtle and can be undetected for a period of time. People must be warned that false doctrine can creep into any church and they should be aware of it and report it immediately when it is suspected. 
The pastor should constantly be challenging His people to maintain the proper balance. Through soul-winning, Vacation Bible School, the bus ministry and many other various ministries of the church a wonderful sense of belonging and fellowship occurs. Anyone who fails to get involved in a ministry will miss the greatest fellowship the church affords, that of serving together. Banquets and get-togethers are important but they must not become the main thing.