Let’s get together…

Growing up in church, one of the things that I can do is reflect back to the past and compare to the present. One of the cool things about the present day church is size. The average weekly attendance nationwide for a Christian church is over 175 adults whereas, in the 70s, that average was just over 50 adults. Due to the rise in “Mega-Churches”, with memberships in the multiple thousands, the overall numbers are considerably different. The reason that I feel that the size of churches is cool is that more people have the ‘opportunity’ to worship together at the same time in the same place. Unfortunately, this cool thing also brings another side…

With the all-encompassing church of today, one of the things that we miss is what I call cross-church fellowship. Cross-church fellowship is where the entire congregation of one church would go and visit, or support, another church. Usually these fellowships surrounded special events like pastoral, church, or choir anniversaries; revivals; and other special services like the ‘building fund’. These services allowed the two congregations to worship together, renew social bonds, and generally have ‘a good time’. But, just like testimony service, these things had to stop.

The expansion of church happens when God impresses, or calls, a believer into the pastorate. This believer then goes to their pastor who trains, blesses and releases them to start their own ministry under the covering of the former pastor. This is the way it should happen. Unfortunately, many churches started because of some sort of disagreement of one type, or another. The church splits into two or more groups and there you have ‘expansion’. Due to church splits, many pastors aren’t comfortable with their congregations visiting with other congregations for fear of losing parts of their membership. You know that whole ‘grass is greener’ thing…

The bad part about this lack of fellowship between churches is that without the fellowship, church can become habitual, mundane and uneventful. We go through our regularly scheduled services, week after week and there is no variety. The parishioners begin to look forward to the special outreaches and events but, many churches don’t even have that. So, church becomes religious and passé. But, wait shouldn’t church be religious? It should be but in this example… no. Simply put, I brush my teeth religiously but does that make me a better Christian?

How do we get out of this situation? I believe that this issue can be overcome in a multitude of ways. I’ll just give two…

(1) Pastors can open their doors to other pastors and their congregations. I know this sounds easy but many pastors, “don’t like another man feeding his flock”. Well, God has given His Word to more people just than you. Their delivery, frame of reference and interpretation is key to encouraging the people and even you.

(2) Home groups are another way to spread the message of Christ to people from different places. Here’s how it works… The pastor trains home group leaders who in turn follow a fellowship format which includes sermon notes from the pastor. These groups meet weekly, or bi-weekly, for the express purpose of “kingdom building”. Kingdom building allows people to study the word at the groups pace rather than the congregations and allows for questions. How many times have YOU left a service with a question about something that was taught? Whether you agreed, or disagreed, there was still a question. Also, kingdom building gives people a point of contact to help in times of need like, “Please pray for my wayward child” or “My unsaved husband likes to bowl. Can our next group outreach be at a bowling alley in order to reach my husband” or “I’m facing a shutoff notice and I’m short $50.”. People need ministering to not ministered at. But, that’s a whole different subject. As groups, people within the groups are trained to be leader and once the group reaches a certain number, it divides and the trainee become a leader of their own group. The cool thing about home groups is that it isn’t meant to only service the people from your own church but people in general (spreading the good news).

In summary, I give honor to those churches that still fellowship together. There is a trust, a closeness and a feeling of family that is created there that tends to be lost in the new church.

So, whether, or not, your church participates in cross-church fellowship… Never let go of the reason that we come together in the first place and that is to experience the Love of God, to love one another and to share His love with the world…

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie

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