Teaching Tips 261
I enjoy finding connections between the Old and New Covenants. Today I want to try one out on you. You can tell me if I am seeing something that is not there, or whether it is legitimate.
Fellowship is under pressure
* 2 years of our lives have been spent largely not in one another’s company
* Allows for reduced vulnerability
* We are truly viscerally vulnerable when together in a way that is not mirrored online.
* One of the beauties of in-person fellowship is the inability of the fellowshipers to control their fellowship. Someone will interrupt, someone will want to talk to us that we’d rather avoid, a topic will be broached we’d rather not discuss.
* Social Media
* The Separation of Church and Status, Brett McCracken, Princeton Theological Review, Vol XVII, No 2, (2010) pp. 21-34.
* McCracken is pretty scathing about the ability of social media to generate meaningful connections. He says, ‘What else can this be but a performance, an exercise of power wherein we can regulate and micromanage our very specifically staged social spheres?’ 25
* It was’ Fellowship Sunday’ last week in the Watford church of Christ
* Some teaching, a fellowship exercise and conclusion
Fellowship is not a New Testament idea
The Israelites brought fellowship offerings to the tabernacle and the temple (Exodus 20:24). This Hebrew word – shelem – comes up over 80 times in the Old Testament. It means ‘peace offering’ and its purpose was thanksgiving, vow fulfilment or as a freewill offering, Lev 7:11–18.
The fellowship offering was shared.
God received the best
The priests received their share as food
The people ate the rest
Leviticus 10:14 NIV11
– “Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 27:7 NIV11)
1. God ate
2. His priests ate
3. His people ate
1. Prompted by thankfulness to God
2. Personal sacrifice
3. Everyone present participated
4. Everyone present benefitted
Perhaps this is a good model for our New Testament fellowship.
1. Out of gratitude to God for our salvation and new identity in his family
2. We make a sacrifice of money, time and energy to come together which
3. Honours God
4. Blesses others
5. Strengthen us
Encouraging the generating of genuine loving encounters as part of the collective worship experience is a tough thing to ‘organise’. However, some of the issues that can take a congregation in the right direction would include:
* The leadership setting the example
* Services not so long everyone wants to escape as quickly as possible afterwards
* Some of our people have non-Christian spouses at home
* Teaching on the value of fellowship and the how-to’s for those who are socially challenged
* Where possible arranging the space and seating to facilitate connection
* Creating interactive aspects to the worship events such that individual participation is encouraged and collective expressions of faith are possible
* Find ways for people of different backgrounds and ages to serve together
As Max Lucado puts it,
“Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.” ‘Fearless’, p144
Ideas and Questions for Reflection:
– What does ‘fellowship’ mean to you?
– Why do you ‘fellowship’ at congregational gatherings?
– If God could help you to fellowship more meaningfully, what would you ask him for?
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: [firstname.lastname@example.org](mailto:email@example.com).
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God bless, Malcolm