Starting a New Fellowship
Are you a true follower of Jesus?
Do you pray, know your Bible and believe it to be true?
Do you desire to serve and glorify God and use your spiritual gifts?
Then congratulations… you are ready to be used by God!
by Allan Weatherall
Starting a new fellowship that God will bless is not as difficult as some think. You do not need a theological degree or be an ordained minister or even a member of any particular denomination. What is much more important is that you are a person of faith and character. Are you humble and ready to learn? Do you have an earnest desire to love and serve God? Are you free from the selfish desire to promote yourself? Do you have a sense of call from God? If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’ then read on and learn… God may be using this article to equip you for a wonderful task that he has prepared for you.
Note firstly that I used the word ‘fellowship’ instead of the word ‘church’. That is because in God’s sight, in any city or region there is only ever one Church. It is the body of Christ which is made up of believers who love and serve him, regardless of which fellowship they attend or which denomination that they may choose to belong to. Having good relationships with other Christians and seeking unity with them can only strengthen what God is calling you to do. You may not agree on every point of doctrine, and you may disagree on certain customs and traditions, but if Christ is at the centre, then you can just agree to disagree on peripheral issues. Divisions are sometimes unavoidable, but we should try our best to avoid them.
So how do you start? Who do you start with? What do you do? What is your mission and vision? Let’s look at these one by one.
How do you start?
Who do you start with?
What do you do when you meet?
The believers recognised that Jesus was the only head of the Church and when they met they expected that Jesus would reveal his presence through the gifts of the Holy Spirit working through his people. They expected that God would speak, teach, heal, encourage and comfort. They shared communal meals and celebrated the grace of God with joyful and thankful hearts. When God answered their prayers they would simply give testimony to others of all that God had done in their lives and people would come wanting to know the Way.
Are you feeling inadequate for the task? Remember, if have a Bible then you have access to more information about God than most believers in history. Knowing what God wants is not a problem because it’s right there in the Bible. The main challenge is learning to obey it!
What is your mission and vision? Jesus said, ‘Go… and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always…’ (Matt 28:19,20) We need no other mission or vision other than that which was given to us by Jesus himself.
B: ‘...make disciples...’
C: ‘...baptising them...’
D: ‘...teaching them to obey’ Christ’s commandments.
Being a Christian is not about obeying legalistic rules and regulations... it is about following Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We should only insist on obedience to those things which are clearly commanded by him. Dangerous legalism develops when people take things from the Bible, or other customs and traditions, and teach them as rigid laws. The teachings of the epistles shouldn’t be used like a set of rules - they are pastoral guidelines that are intended for our welfare and guidance. They are there to teach and help us and shouldn’t be misunderstood out of the context in which they were written. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for misusing the word of God and ‘teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’. Legalism inevitably brings condemnation, but for those who follow Jesus there is freedom and ‘no condemnation’ (Rom 8:1; Gal 5:1).
Most of Jesus’ teaching was done informally as he sat or walked around with his disciples. They way Jesus taught was also interactive. ie: People were free to interrupt and ask questions. Teaching can happen in a group very naturally and informally as you read through the Bible together. When people have questions you can stop and discuss those things. The gospels are the best place to begin.
Some people believe that when they start a new fellowship they need to start doing all the things that they see happening in big churches. Just forget that. When you come together just ask Jesus to make his presence known among you. In a small fellowship people can also be encouraged to use their spiritual gifts. When the Spirit of God moves among you will just give glory to God. You will soon learn that great things can happen among you that would never take place in a larger meeting. God may cause your small fellowship to grow into something bigger, or God may use this time to prepare you for other things. The most important thing is that you stay humble, truly seek to honour God and his word, and love each other. God bless you!
Thursday, November 9, 2006 printer friendly version | 10512 reads
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