Fellowship: Parts 3 and 4

A few weeks ago, I shared the first in a series of four articles devoted to unpacking the scriptural example of small groups (like our fellowship groups). This is the combined third and fourth article in that series by Dr. Dan Williams, a long time minister and expert on small group ministries in the churches of Christ.  – Brian
To quickly recap the first two weeks of this series, we learned first that in the very beginning of the church in Acts 2, that their “togetherness” was in part attributed to their regular meetings together and that often those meetings were in homes.  In his second point, Dan reminded us that we have several examples throughout the New Testament of churches meeting in homes, including one we have been studying on Wednesday nights about the house church that met at Philemon’s home. In fact, there is no evidence for buildings dedicated to Christian worship for the first 300 years of the church. That led to an opportunity for hospitality at church meetings in homes. That brings us to this week.
Third, the purpose of the command in Hebrews 10:25 to “meet together” is to “encourage one another” – that’s why Verse 24 says “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.”  The church for which I preached for over 28 years has had some sort of small group system in place since 1977, and I can testify from long experience that the level of fellowship, closeness, and unity in a church is greatly enhanced by participating in well-designed home groups.
Finally, there are those who might be concerned that meeting in small groups will cause division within the church. Our experience with small groups is that, far from “dividing” the church, they created much stronger bonds of fellowship, bonding, and unity by allowing for a much more personal level of fellowship than would ever be experienced simply by sitting in pews looking at the back of your fellow Christians’ head every Lord’s Day. By contrast, I can show you dozens of congregations that are deeply divided despite the fact that they share the same physical space every Sunday morning!
In short, small groups are described in scripture; the concept is amply demonstrated in the New Testament; when done right, their study format deepens the participants’ knowledge of the Bible; and their more personal, interactive format provides an excellent method for fulfilling the command in Hebrews 10:25 to “encourage one another.”
I hope these thoughts have provided a helpful perspective for our family members as we prepare for the launch of our fellowship groups this fall. If you have not already, please consider signing up for a fellowship group today.

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