The word ‘fellowship’ originates from the Greek word ‘koinonia’, which describes the close relationship that members of the Lord’s church can have with God through Jesus Christ. In 1 John 1:7, the apostle John mentioned very clearly that the basis of true communion with God can only be made possible when His children are walking in the light of God. In essence, walking in the light enables Christians to enjoy a “vertical” fellowship with God as well as “horizontal” fellowship with one another in the church.
Indeed, as members of God’s family in Jurong, we do understand the importance of developing a right relationship with God through meditating on His Word and allowing it to touch our hearts and guide us in our daily Christian living (Psalms 119:105). However, let us also be mindful that we may be tempted sometimes to believe that having only a “vertical” relationship with God alone is sufficient. Viewed in this sense, Christians who harbor such a mistaken attitude may believe that fellowship with other brethren is not important to their personal salvation. But is that really the case?
Perhaps it is timely for us to check our own attitudes by reflecting on the following questions: “How do we relate to one another when we meet for worship? Do we look forward to seeing one another, or do we find ourselves being distanced from one another in the church? Do we know one another well? Would we be interested to get to know one another’s lives? Are we concerned about the spiritual well-being of other brethren? Would we be willing to support one another in time of need, or would we somehow neglect the needs of other brethren who require our support and encouragement?” Our personal responses to the above-mentioned questions would help us to determine our attitudes concerning fellowship in God’s family.
Now, having spent some time to reflect on our individual beliefs and attitudes towards Christian fellowship, there is also a need to take some time to ponder on this significant question: “Why is growing in fellowship amongst brethren so important to God?” To put it very simply, let us always remember that God earnestly desires His church to grow in Christian love. Specifically, God wants His children to be strong in heart and spirit, and such growth in the body of Christ can only be realized when individual brethren understand and believe that they have an important responsibility to strengthen one another spiritually through fellowship in the Lord’s church.
But what would be the potential consequences when members of God’s family do not grow in Christian fellowship? It would be an obvious observation that the lack of mutual encouragement and support amongst God’s family would eventually affect the overall growth of the church. This is a real problem happening in the Lord’s church in today’s context, which is contrary to the will of God. A growing church is a healthy church. God desires us not only to have fellowship with Him, but also to have fellowship with one another in His church (1 John 1:3). In essence, both “vertical” and “horizontal” fellowships are important to God.
The church consists of those who love both God and their brethren (Mark 12:29-31). Hence, what can be done to build up the family of God in Jurong? Survey results by the ministry of parakaleo, which was officially established in March 2015, reveal that the majority of brethren perceive support groups to be a viable platform for building up God’s family in Jurong. In particular, brethren felt that smaller support groups can help to foster more personal sharing of the challenges and issues that they encounter in their daily Christian living as well as help to promote closer and deeper relationship bonds with one another.
In light of the survey results, the church leaders at Jurong believe that there is an important need in the congregation regarding fellowship and the Care Group Ministry has been established to address these spiritual needs of brethren. In the preparation phase of this congregational initiative, the committee members have met up on a regular basis during the past couple of months to discuss how best to implement this initiative. Publicity plans have also been rolled out to heighten the awareness of the Care Group Ministry. Sermons have also been shared in an effort to emphasise the importance of this ministry.
Truly, this is an important ministry that would enable us to take care of our own spiritual needs as well as enable the members of God’s family to help each other to grow. Through this ministry, we hope to encourage more in-depth sharing of members’ life experiences and work together as a small team to be more spiritually-minded and God-centred. The support group will also aspire to develop deeper trust and stronger bond amongst brethren through their personal sharing and reflections.
We have often heard of this saying, “No one individual is an island”, but it applies so much the more especially to the family of God at Jurong. We need the mutual support and encouragement of brethren during both good times and during times when we encounter difficulties, struggles and disappointments in our daily walk with God (Galatians 6:2). As Christians, we want to go to heaven when our time in this earthly world is over, but wouldn’t it be a more fulfilling and joyous experience when we are able to lend a hand to encourage our brethren to go to heaven together?
As members of God’s family in Jurong, let us always remember that God views both “vertical” and “horizontal” fellowship to be very important. And let us determine to be active participants in the Care Group Ministry, which will commence in January 2017.