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Time in Fellowship

Christian fellowship, including 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 times 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 gatherings of Christ followers. Paul’s letters were 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.

[Some really important things:]

First: If the New Testament were divided into seven equal parts, it would break down like this:

  • Three-parts: stories of Jesus, the Head of the Church (the Gospels)
  • One-part: stories about starting the Church and churches (Acts)
  • Three-parts: letters to churches and church leaders (Romans to Revelation)

(See a theme here?)

Second:​ Most times “you” in the New Testament should be translated as “y’all” or even "all y'all" because it's a plural form of the word. 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 or a fellowship, like a church.

Warm-Up

Begin with a conversation starter,​ then use some of these warm-up questions.

  • On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being “absolutely not” and 5 being “for sure yes” how would you rank this statement: “I love church.”
  • Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “It’s important to go to church.” Why?
  • Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “It’s important to be involved in a church.” Why?
  • What are some reasons people might think church isn’t important?
  • What does your family think about church?

Read & Reflect

Use one or more of these passages to see what scripture says about spending time in fellowship. 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). ​

  • At age 12, Jesus was still learning about God and life (see verse 52). What do you notice about how he was doing this? What might be important about that for your own life?
  • What are some ways that being part of a church can help a person “grow in wisdom”?

Read Luke 4:14-22 (Jesus reading Scripture in the synagogue). ​

  • How did Jesus engage people with Scripture?
  • Why do you think he did it that way?
  • What do you think about Jesus teaching the Bible in the synagogue (church)?

Positive Example

Read Psalm 122.

  • What phrases stand out to you about the actions or attitudes of the people singing this song?
  • How does the Psalmist describe Jerusalem? How might that relate to church today?

Negative Example

Read Revelation 2:1-5 and 3:1-3.

  • What words of encouragement and warnings do you see for the church today in these verses?
  • What might that mean for you personally as a follower of Jesus?
  • What might that mean for you as someone who is part of a church community?

Teaching Passage

Read Romans 12:3-13 or 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

  • Why do you think Paul (author of these letters) described the church as a body?
  • What “parts” (people/roles) of the church do you think people value most? Why?
  • What does Christian community and fellowship (any group or gathering of Christ followers) provide that you can’t experience on your own?
  • What does active life in a church offer that Christian community outside the church (like a group of friends or a small group) can’t provide on its own?

Some Ideas About How to Be Involved in Church Fellowship

  • If your family already attends a church, that’s the best place to be involved.
  • If your family doesn’t have a church home, visit churches where a friend, relative, leader, or mentor attends. Visit more than once before deciding if it could be your church home. Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance about finding a church home and family.
  • Give yourself a reasonable time frame to visit churches and make one your home — probably more than one week and less than three months.
  • Consider taking notes during the teaching or sermon. Afterward, identify one main thing you’ve learned or can think more about. During the teaching or sermon, copy out specific parts of the main Bible passage as a way to stay engaged with God’s Word.

Some important things to look for in a church home:

  • They teach and preach from the Bible.
  • They sing together (be open to music that’s new or different).
  • They are multi-generational (people of different ages).
  • They are kind and welcoming to visitors.

Some ways to be involved in a church:

  • Sing along with the worship music, even if it’s unfamiliar or not your favorite style.
  • Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know — shake hands, smile, listen well.
  • Listen carefully to the sermon. If you struggle to engage, copy out the Scripture passage and pay attention to what God reveals to you.
  • Find out if there are ways you can volunteer or help out based on your skills and availability.
  • If you volunteer for something, be faithful, responsible, on time, and give your best.

 

Student Card

Capernaum Version

More verses about spending time in fellowship

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)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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