Christian fellowship, especially being connected to a local church, is an important part of following Jesus.
Maybe you’ve heard Jesus described this way: “Jesus didn’t like religious people. And he wasn’t a fan of organized religious gatherings. In fact, he was against anything related to religion and church.”
No matter how many people say these things, they don't match the story of Jesus in the Bible.
Jesus was raised in a religious family. His mother was visited by an angel and sang worship songs, and her cousin was married to a priest. Jesus' earthly dad was so religious that he considered not marrying his fiancé, Mary (Jesus' mom) when he thought she'd broken some of their religious laws (she hadn't, and he did marry her).
Jesus' parents followed religious traditions and laws so closely that when Jesus was just a tiny baby, they traveled with him to the Temple to offer specific sacrifices outlined in their religious laws.
Jesus' extended community was so religious they traveled to the Temple each year for an important celebration and brought Jesus along after he turned 12, an important birthday in his religious tradition.
As an adult, Jesus regularly attended and taught in the local synagogues (similar to our churches today). When he wasn't in the synagogue, he regularly talked about God and quoted from the Hebrew scriptures. What could be more religious than that?
If Jesus were here today to “share his faith story” it might start like this: “I grew up in a very religious family, and learned all about my religion when I was growing up, and went to religious gatherings in the synagogue every Sabbath, and celebrated all the traditional religious celebrations." He would probably also say: "And I had a very close relationship with my heavenly God and Father." Religion and church are good things, but if they aren't grounded in a close relationship with God, they are empty.
After Jesus came back to life, he established the big-C Church—the worldwide kingdom of Christ-followers. And he sent his apostles to establish little-c churches—the local congregations of Christ-followers. Paul’s letters are written to some of those churches made up of real everyday people like you and me.
The Church—the full Kingdom of God’s people—was established by Jesus Christ to honor and glorify him.
The church—local gatherings of God’s people who are the “body of Christ”—was established by Jesus Christ to teach and encourage his followers, to bring hope to the world, and to bring honor and glory to him.
The church is Jesus' idea—a very good and important idea for all of his followers, even today.
(A few more things):
First: If the New Testament were divided into seven equal parts, it would break down like this:
(See a theme here?)
Second: Unless it’s clearly in reference to an individual, most times “you” in the New Testament should be translated as “y’all” or even "all y'all" because it's a plural word form. So though we often read the Bible on our own as though it’s written to each of us personally, it’s usually addressed to a group of people, like a church.
Begin with a conversation starter, then use these warmup questions.
READ & REFLECT
Use one or more of these passages to see what scripture says about spending time in worship. You can also engage with the passage by copying out part of it, rewriting it as a prayer, rephrasing it as its opposite, summarizing it with a single word or phrase, making a list or chart of similar and dissimilar things, or turning it into something visual like a doodle, design, or flowchart.
JESUS' EXAMPLE: Read Luke 2:41-52 (Jesus in the temple at age 12)
Read Luke 4:14-22 (Jesus reading scripture in the synagogue)
POSITIVE EXAMPLE: Read Psalm 122
NEGATIVE EXAMPLE: Read Revelation 2:1-5 and 3:1-3
TEACHING PASSAGE: Read Romans 12:3-13 or 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
SOME IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO BE INVOLVED IN CHURCH FELLOWSHIP
MORE VERSES ABOUT SPENDING TIME IN CHURCH FELLOWSHIP (from NLT)
I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our own brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, and to all of his holy people throughout Greece. (2 Corinthians 1:1)
All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia. (Galatians 1:2)
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: … (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)
God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
This letter is from Paul and Timothy…I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons. (Philippians 1:1)
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. (Colossians 1:18a)
This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God give you grace and peace. (1 Thessalonians 1:1)
I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow solider Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. (Philemon 1:1b-2)
This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. (Revelation 1:4)
I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, with is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
Then [Paul and Timothy and others] went from town to town, instructing the believers … so the churches were strengthened in their faith… (Acts 16:4-5)
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual song to God with thankful hearts. (Colossians 3:16)
Downloadable student card for this lesson.
Downloadable Capernaum version of this lesson.
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