Why Fellowship?

Why do we need a fellowship and who establishes it?

In one of our interactive Bible studies, the question I got was about fellowship. It hinted on some of the problems and/or confusions among believers and brethren as to why and what serves the purpose of fellowship. The question read: "When one says that the fellowship is magulo (conflict-ridden), malungkot (sad), what is the first thing one must do? Is it right to just ‘lie low’ until one deems it right to attend again? What does the Bible say?"

Yes, indeed. Why and what is a fellowship? Is it just "our" convenient way of "socializing," so that whenever one feels that it is no longer serve his/her purposes, one can simply withdraw himself/herself and leave? Is it alright to "lie low" whenever the fellowship is magulo? What should one do? On the other hand, misunderstanding can sometimes happen in the church that we wonder: "Do we still need a fellowship?" Others prefer to stay home to avoid being exposed and hurt. Is this the right thing
to do?


First, lets understand one basic question: Who establishes the Fellowship?

In I John 1:3, we read :

"…that which we have seen and heard, we declare to you, that you also may fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ."

In correcting the most contentious churches in the first century, the apostle Paul also emphasized this truth when he wrote:

"God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His son, Jesus Christ our Lord." – I Corinthians 1:9

It is clear from these two passages that true fellowship should be directed to our Father above and to His son. A true fellowship is composed of spirit-led Christians who are joined to Christ. Therefore, we say, we are the "branches" of the one "vine" which is Jesus Christ (John 15:5). Hence, to think that a fellowship is magulo or malungkot one simply loses his/her spiritual focus from the true fellowship of God.

On the other hand, a fellowship is not merely and association by convenience whereby an individual is free to choose from, but rather should be rooted with what is truth:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk with darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But as we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." —I John 1:6-7

This very principle is firmly rooted in the Old Testament when God commanded sacred assemblies for His people:

"The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh is the Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times."Leviticus 23:2-4

Proper fellowship is very crucial that we need to practice it in a correct manner and often. The Bible declares that the closer we get to the return of Christ, the more we need the fellowship:

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another on order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."Hebrews 10:23-25

These are the basic passages we should bear in mind whenever one is confused about what the fellowship is all about. But why do we need a fellowship, why did God establish it?

Going back to our question, "What is the first thing one must do, is it alright to just ‘lie low’ until one deems right to attend again"? Why is it that there is a tendency for most us to "shy away" from fellowship whenever confusion and or hurt arises? Is this the right thing to do? What purpose then is the fellowship?

The book of Proverbs gives us insight as to some of the purpose and things to expect in a fellowship, it reads:

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friends." –Proverbs 27:17

So as the Proverbs tells us, one very important reason for fellowship is to harness us or tie us together in order to grow and build character in ourselves and in our fellow believers. This can only happen through our constant contact and communication. We can be exposed to various points of view, we can learn patience, exercise kindness and tolerance, our "rough edges" can be smoothed over for the purpose of developing godly character in us. We cannot develop all these mainly by ourselves-by isolating ourselves. Through fellowshipping and sharing with others, God actually develops His love in us. We can learn and grow in our understanding of God and His way of life by learning how God works in others’ lives! Through
fellowship we can be educated, encouraged, inspired and exhorted.

Moreover, I Corinthians 3:10-13 shows that what we build in this life will be revealed by fire at the return of Christ. Therefore to neglect fellowship, to "lie low" as the manner of some is, whenever there is some trouble or boredom and even hurt and or criticism, is to stagnate spiritually. It is counter-productive not only to the individual concerned but to the fellowship as a whole.

Note that even our physical body needs constant flexing in order to be strong. We need to learn, to be corrected, to be "polished" in order to grow.

Fellowship also provides us great opportunity to share and improve our talents, spiritual gifts, and experiences through time with others. In his epistles to the Romans, Paul exhorted Christians and said, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [failings] of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification" (Romans 15:1-2). It is therefore the obligation of those who are "strong" to seek and find out the need of other
brethren and the fellowship provides us such venue. Without fellowship we will never know the needs of others. And, how can we know their needs if we don’t fellowship? But this does not mean that we should be meddling in others people’s lives (Proverbs 26:17; I Peter 4:15). What it means is, we should have proper discernment and concern for the needs of our brethren.

Ideally, true fellowship should focus us on worship, recreation and in maintaining good relationship with everyone. Members should be given a degree of freedom to exercise their God-given talents and gifts. But it is a sad thing that some of us can sometime fall prey to problems because of human nature that still plays dominant over the earnest of the Spirit.

There are some who, rather than edify and strengthen the brethren, use Romans 15:1-2 to create dissensions and or stir up division and strife. Hence, Paul writes, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another" (Romans 14:19). Therefore, if the things one talks about another do not lead to peace and edification, then one is creating trouble and division instead of peace. It would be sensible if we can all avoid topics that are a source of irritation especially if it is not talking about "gross sins". Too often, it seems, we all want to be "the right" and get the "last word"
in any discussion. No one is willing to be corrected and there is no sign of humility.

On the other hand, there are those who criticize an effort rather than encourage. Why not ask, "How can I contribute in this fellowship?" "Where can I be effective?" Why not think of some project or activity that will edify the whole congregation rather than focus on personalities. Hence, burying one’s talent and not exercising God’s given gift, which is tantamount to robbing yourself of rich spiritual blessings!

One characteristic of a good fellowship is respect and trust, which results in tolerance. We should be tolerant and forbearing of the faults and foibles of others. This means that we must always avoid arguments over trivial or petty matters. Love covers (I Peter 4:8). Jesus Christ pointed out that one great sign whereby one would know His true followers is, "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

Another area, one of the most important that we sometimes neglect to appreciate in a fellowship is- it gives us rare privilege to continuously worship God as a group. The prophet Malachi declared that God actually notices and hears individuals who do not neglect the fellowship, especially in these latter days:

"Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another [fellowship], and the LORD listened
and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the
LORD and who meditate on His name…and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who
serves him."
Malachi 3:16-17

Of course, we still can worship God in our own privacy and should always be doing. But we can only demonstrate it in a more powerful way through fellowship with fellow believers. Jesus Christ even declared that whenever brethren are gathered together in His name He promises to be among them (Matthew 18:20).

Man is a social creature. God created in us an innate desire and need to have a relationship with others. Hence, fellowship, it has been said, is a doctrine very close to marriage. Marriage teaches us faithfulness and fellowship should train us to live in harmony with others, and vice-versa. After all, fellowship is merely an extension of family life.

Hence, Christian fellowship is not an end in itself. Each of us has a gift that God has bestowed in us to build, edify, and strengthen the brethren (Ephesians 4:11-13). We all have interlocking roles to play. One must not just sit for an hour in service and say, "I had a great fellowship today!" or "Mr. so and so…ruined my Sabbath!" No. One should be able to say, "I am very grateful to see the family of…this Sabbath!" "I was able to share some good things today!" Remember, a fellowship to be effective should be result oriented, not personality centered. It’s the result that counts-not motions.

Finally, we must all strive to live and create an atmosphere where everyone should be a blessing to everyone:

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the
precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on
the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;
for there the LORD commanded the blessing-Life forevermore.”
Psalm 133:1-3.

You are here: Home FAQs Why Fellowship?