I preached on this topic for the last two weeks and students discussed in their small groups. We also focused on the ID Bag activity in small groups so our kids can get to know each other and get the ball rolling on fellowshipping together this year.
Here are some main points about fellowship that we talked about:
- Fellowship isn't just hanging out with people or using our manners at church
- Fellowship is a heart issue, plus actions - we can read about the early church's model in Acts 2.
- True fellowship is about being there for one another at church, uplifting each other, caring for one another, serving together, etc. Hanging out and having fun is part of it, but true fellowship is much more than that!
- The biggest danger to fellowship is approaching church with a consumer mindset - "what can I get out of this?" "what do I like and dislike, and how can things go my way?" "how can I be spiritually fed?" - all valid questions, but true fellowship also includes the flipside: "how can I help others and lift them up?" "what are some things I might not like, that others are benefitting from?" "how can I spiritually feed others?"
- Students were challenged to act our true fellowship together even when it's difficult, and were also challenged to view church much differently than how society teaches us to live in a "me first" way.
- Bottom line: if we all take some time to lift one another up, nobody burns out. We will all experience times when we are someone's strength, and times when we need someone's strength. We should always look for ways to do this ourselves, instead of expecting someone else to do it - if we all practice this, our ministry and church will be so much healthier and uplifting than if we leave the hard work to a few people.
Key passages - all in Message translation:
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
2 Corinthians 1:4
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
It's my prayer that together as a ministry, we will be growing, encouraging, and serving this year. I can't wait what God has in store for us this year and I'm confident that it will be awesome!