Fellowship is a misunderstood purpose of small-group ministry.
People often think they're enjoying fellowship together, when actually they're only experiencing a small part of what fellowship is meant to be. Too often, the parts that are missing are the elements of true community. And Christian community is what provides the strong foundation for living out all the other purposes of the church:
- True community fosters discipleship. That's because when the people in your small groups experience open, honest relationships together, they have an easier time asking hard questions and challenging each other to grow.
- True community fosters ministry. That's because when we care about one another and we know one another's needs, it's easier to put love into action. We don't hesitate to help.
- True community fosters evangelism. When we know that a small-group member is hurting over loved ones who don't know Christ yet, we're more able—and more motivated—to pray for them to be saved.
- True community fosters worship. Those who experience genuine community and unconditional love with one another are willing to be more vulnerable. This includes honesty in worship. When we are part of true community, we're apt to talk more openly to our friends and to surrender ourselves more freely to God.
The Bible offers its own reasons why Christian fellowship is so important. For instance, Hebrews 10:24–25 says: "Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do. But encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near."
We tend to think of good deeds as being ...