Fellowship is so much more than potluck dinners and ice cream socials.
It’s more than hanging out with people before small group and shaking hands in the hallways at church. And while fellowship includes friendship, fun, and usually food, it’s so much more than all of those things.
Fellowship is bonding over a shared “something”—a shared interest, a shared commitment, or in our case, a shared person. Fellowship requires a unifier, and our unifier is Jesus.
That’s why, before we can live in fellowship with other believers, we have to live in fellowship with Jesus Christ. We can’t live in unity with other believers if we aren’t connected to our unifier. Staying connected to Jesus is what makes fellowship possible. Apart from Him, living in genuine fellowship with other believers isn’t easy, and that’s because pursuing consistent fellowship with other believers takes discipline—spiritual discipline.
Living in true fellowship with other believers requires a significant amount of self-sacrifice. In Acts, the fellowship of believers is described as “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” and “selling their possessions and belongings and distributing to all, as any had need.” They met together, broke bread together, and had generous hearts (Acts 2). The picture of fellowship painted for us in Scripture is so much more than just eating a meal together; it’s sacrificing for one another. It’s not just doing life together; it’s laying down our lives together.
When we look to our left and right and see people who are on the same mission with us, and fighting the same battles we are, that’s fellowship. When we stand in the gap for other believers who are struggling, that’s fellowship.
Fellowship is forged when we show up for the hard stuff in each other’s lives, not just the fun stuff. It allows other believers to get close enough to hold us spiritually accountable.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….” (Hebrews 10:24–25)
Fellowship is what happens when we’re challenged, sharpened, encouraged, and strengthened by the presence of God dwelling in the hearts of those closest to us.
It’s also the spiritual discipline that encourages us in all of the rest. The beauty of fellowship is the God uses other believers to push us forward in so many other areas of our faith. Because of fellowship with other believers, we can be challenged to know the Word more, our faith can be sharpened, and our joy can be strengthened. Because of fellowship with other believers, we can confess our sins to one another and be encouraged (James 5:16).
Practicing the spiritual discipline of fellowship means committing to be being there for other believers, and it also means committing to let them be there for you. It means showing up for gospel-centered community regularly and transparently. And when a community of believers lives in true fellowship with God and one another, others will be drawn to the God that unites them.
Living in true fellowship with other believers will take work, but it will be worth it. So begin to practice it and foster it in your own Christian community. And don’t forget: even though fellowship is so much more than friendship, fun, and food, sometimes those are the very things that God uses to help us build deeper fellowship in our communities!