By Evan Knies
I am a member of a church that has home groups that meet every other week. These groups are filled with many different people and they come from different areas of life. But there is one thing that unites us. It is the gospel! It is through relationships like those in our home group that biblical fellowship is displayed. People, by the world’s standards, should not care for one another. But by the gospel standards (and power), they do care. This is fellowship. This is unity. We don’t have fellowship for the “sake” of fellowship. We genuinely care for one another. When relationships are like this, when Christians fellowship like this on earth, it is a foretaste of heaven. When the Church is gathered, it is a glimpse of heaven.
Mark Dever has recently coauthored a book titled The Compelling Community. As I read the book, and as I thought about how important fellowship is within my own local church, I asked two questions that I want to share with you:
Why is it important for church members to care for one another?
1. We are called to care for one another. Love one another. Be there for each other.
2. We love one another because we are new creations in Christ. We love one another because Jesus first loved us.
3. The church is blood bought. We are brothers and sisters united in the gospel.
How can we better cultivate gospel-centered fellowship within local churches in the South?
1. Be at a church that preaches the gospel on a weekly basis. If you want to be at a church that is a gospel community, it must be centered around the weekly preaching of the word.
2. Work to form relationships and small-groups that are made up of people from different backgrounds who have only one thing in common: the gospel. Work to equip groups that have intentional fellowship with individuals as various as a twenty-somethings from the inner city and eighty-somethings from the suburbs. It is within these relationships where believers uniquely grow in sanctification because it helps break believers out of their comfort zones. Far too often it is hard for us to build gospel centered community, because we have built our understanding of community on comfort.
3. Take time to truly build relationships that allow honesty and even vulnerability. We all have a tendency to ask people, “Hey, how are you?” but by the time someone says how they are doing, we’ve already already started talking to someone else or have moved on in our minds. If you really want a community that is centered on the gospel, you need to know how people are really doing. You have to actually know one another. Take off the masks and focus on the King. Ask questions, be engaged, and share the gospel.
Friends you only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Jesus Christ will last.
Evan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies