Title: Fellowship (In light of Community Groups; Outside These Walls 2017)
Text: Philippians 1.27-2.1
Introduction: Last summer we experienced with a change of pace: Outside these Walls. For the most part, it went well. We chose to not meet inside these facilities on Wednesday nights, but rather to gather outside the confinement of these walls and instead to meet out in the community. We served, we played, we worshipped. The elders want to build on that idea of going outside these walls this summer.
Outside These Walls: 2017 is similar in fashion but different in design. Here’s how: we still want to meet outside these walls, but we want to refine our attempts by setting some goals.
- We want higher participation.
Consider this: if we have 80 people on Sunday morning, we had half of our people participating in OTW in the summer of 2016. That’s ok, but not good. Are you ready for this? I’m praying for 100 people to be participating in Community Groups in 2017. Some of you are thinking I’m crazy. I know, I know! If we only have 85 people in worship, how is it that we’d have 100 in Community Groups? It really is a no-brainer! You and I have to invite families to join ours.
- We want bigger buy in.
Consider this: one week we’d have 40 participants and the next week we’d have 12. There are so many reasons folks drop off the next week. Often times, people participate in activities where they have a vested interest. My hope and my prayer is that you’ll buy into a Community Group. There are so many reasons why, and these messages over the rest of May will present some of those reasons. I hoping that everyone will buy into this concept.
Warning: Some of you have started tuning me out. You have a bad attitude about Community Groups and you’re not going to give it a 2nd thought. But can I stop you there. What is your reason? Did you have a bad experience? Please don’t judge all small groups by your bad experience. I find often times that our attitude skews the event we’re participating in. Are you worried about your Bible Study group that meets on Sunday morning? Don’t be. We’re not recommending canceling Sunday morning activities for this.
- We want to personalize it.
Each group will be different. Sunday morning Bible Study right now is studying the Gospel Project. I love the Gospel Project. Community Groups will study what they want. Marriage 101, Grace Based Parenting, A book (Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, Dennis Rainey, Jonathan Leeman) A book of the Bible, Digging Deeper into this past week’s sermon. The elders want to provide you with resources.
You might want to choose your group because of the teacher, you might want to choose your group based on its location and closeness to your home or your office, you might choose it based on the curriculum.
This month, you’ll be reading about it in the bulletin and hearing about it in the sermons. I’m hoping to begin having sign-ups for our groups by the 21st of May.
Now, I’m rambling. I know this is a long introduction. However, I felt it important to offer a bit of what’s coming and just how these sermons will impact that event. You see, I don’t want to talk about Community Groups as much as I want to talk about purpose and direction. Community Groups will only be used if they can help us accomplish the principles found in Scripture of what and who we are to be.
Our purpose statement is …developing passionate followers of Christ. Michael Wright led the church to develop this purpose statement. I like it and so have kept it through the years. It contains the elements of worship, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship and ministry. I wonder if we might need an update – only because I’d like the glory of God in it somehow. You know… all for the glory of God; maybe to clean up and clear up and verbiage so that it is concise and says exactly what we do and who we are.
So, who are we? What do we do? I’d like to turn our focus upon answering this question during the Month of May. Turn your attention to Philippians 1.
κοινωνία is the word from which we get our word fellowship. Our biggest problem with this word in English is that, when it is spoken and used in our language, it simply connotes the idea of eating together after church. Rarely do Baptists convey the idea of fellowship without the involvement of food!
ill.: Announcement: we’re having a fellowship in the Fellowship Hall after worship today. What did you think? Most of us identify whatever we’re meeting for and whatever we’re going to accomplish with food being served; at least a desert or sweet of some kind will be served.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he uses this word κοινωνία quite often. It appear 6x’s total in 4 chapters in its lexical form or in a compound form. Let me give those to you for your own personal study: 1.5, 7; 2.1; 3.10; 4.14, 15.
These six references form three sections on κοινωνία; however, they have nothing to do with food or fun. This has been eye opening for me. I knew this, but through the years have been lazy about it meaning in the church. Maybe, as we make our way through Philippians this month, you’ll see you’ve taken a laxidazical attitude about this matter as well. Here is my outline: Read the verses where κοινωνία is…
- Fellowship in the Gospel (Ministry/Mission) 1.3-11
- Fellowship in Unity (Being like minded; one Body; Evangelism; Witness) 1.27-2.2
- Fellowship in Christ (Discipleship) 3.1-10
- Fellowship in Unity (Being like minded; one Body; Evangelism; Witness) 4.1-9
- Fellowship in the Gospel (Ministry/Mission) 4.10-20
Maybe we should call the church The Fellowship. Because fellowship is more of a word that describes more of what we do: Evangelism, Discipleship, Missions, Ministry, and Prayer, Worship.
We could use other synonyms: Sharing, Participating, Partnering, and Having in Common;
Warning: Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying when I say fellowship. You see I did! I wrote out a prospectus for community groups and gave it to our elders. And, in preparing these messages, I’ve found I wasn’t seeing things clearly. I want you to grasp what we’re trying to do here.
ill.: – James Hewett tells the story of a woman who was in between flights at an airport. She had about an hour and a half wait and decided that she would spend the time looking over the newspaper. She had a little twinge of hunger, so she dropped by the lounge and picked up a small package of cookies and sat down at a table to look over her paper.
While she was reading, she began to detect a small rustling sound, almost like cellophane being crinkled and torn. She looked over the top of the newsprint and, to her amazement, a well-dressed man, sitting at the same table, a total stranger to her, was opening her cookies and helping himself.
Flabbergasted, she didn’t want to make a scene, and so she just kept the paper up in front of her face and reached around and deliberately took the package of cookies and slid them toward her and took out one and began to eat it.
About a minute passed and, to her amazement, she heard more crinkling of the cellophane. She looked around the paper and the man, not looking at her, was simply eating another of her cookies.
Before she could reach over (by now they were at the bottom of the stack), he looked at the last cookie and broke it in two and with a frown slid it across to her side. He finished his half cookie, picked up his briefcase, and made his way down the terminal.
She was fuming as she munched on her last half of cookie. Then she heard the call for her flight and began to make her way to the gate where she would get on the plane. She needed her ticket, and so she opened her purse and, to her shock, she saw her package of unopened cookies still in her purse.
Somewhere in that same airport was a man still shaking his head, wondering how this strange lady had the nerve to eat part of his cookies!
app.: Funny how we misread what is right before us. You know you do it, too. I was wrong on this word Fellowship. Let me show you…
Calvary Baptist Church
Outside These Walls 2017
He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3.30
Purpose: The purpose of Calvary Community Groups is to foster a sense of community among Calvary Members as we develop passionate followers of Christ.
Community is not the goal in the mission of God; bringing Himself glory through the making of disciples is the goal. Community is the primary context God designed to take the church there. (The People of God, p. 78)
So let me reiterate: the purpose is to foster a sense of community.
Goals: To enable members to experience community through (or simply: Making Community Possible through):
Correction: Making Community Possible through fellowship (John 6.58) 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
- B-breaking bread
- R-relationship building
Benefits: So much of our gatherings at Calvary are only surface deep. My heart’s desire is that the membership will benefit as they:
- Grow in Christ through digging deeper into Scripture
- Grow in their personal relationships with other community group members
- Reach out to their community by inviting a lost family
What is Fellowship (κοινωνία)? The Dictionary of Bible Themes (2009) defines it this way…
Fellowship: An association based upon the sharing of something in common.
ill.: I’m reading Steven Curtis Chapman’s Book, Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story. He tells the story in there about how his community group got together to watch the National Championship Game involving the Tennessee Volunteers against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. Some of the women left early for various reasons. After the game, Steven writes that their family was all in bed when the phone rings. He learns that a vehicle of one family – a mother and her two daughters was in a tragic car accident. Mary Beth, his wife, stayed at home with their children, but Steven changed into some clothes and headed up to the hospital, where he learned that the mom and one daughter were in critical condition, but one of the little girls had died. A teenage, driving way too fast, lost control of his car and hit them broadside.
Steven’s relating the story is so incredible as you watch this community group that he is a part of come together and minister to the family. But what adds to the storyline is that in 10 years, the Chapman’s world would be rocked in the loss of their own little girl, Maria – also involving a vehicle. This family who had been ministered to by their small group, would now minister to the Chapman family and walk with them through their struggle.
app.: Community Groups bring the larger fellowship stability. As individuals come together in fellowship, they experience: relationships; accountability; acceptance, discipleship, evangelism and ministry. And, can I say, this cannot be accomplished in the corporate setting.
Transition: Stephen’s story shows us the extremes of fellowship – from a football game to a hospital emergency room.
Conclusion: Believers have fellowship with one another simply on the basis of:
- Their common relationship with God in Christ, (which puts them in relationship with each other); Philippians has 104 verses using 433 different words. Christ appears 61 times in those 104 verses in various forms of nouns and pronouns.
- Their participation in the blessings of the gospel (Did you know that? You participate in the blessings of the gospel through your marriage, your children, your church…) at times the word κοινωνία appears or is implied in Philippians, so does the word εὐαγγέλιον. 1.5, 6; 1.27 (2); 3.10
- Their common task of missions and evangelism (I am so proud of our work in missions! It is my prayer, however, that our fellowship may refine and get even better at missions through community groups. I can’t say I have the same pride in our evangelism. It is my prayer that evangelism will begin to take place as we partner together in community groups.) You probably remember from earlier in the message, this letter is bookended with the idea of their partnership in Paul’s work of missions and evangelism. : in 4.15; no church partnered in word with me, but you alone. It appears they committed to this fellowship with Paul in ministry and mission with their words and so followed through with their deeds.
In light of all this, you could then say: True fellowship is demonstrated through personal concern for and practical commitment to one another. Note these two words: Concern/Commitment.
- I hope you’ll begin praying for how you can participate in a community group. Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to June 7th (our launch date), we will be posting our leaders, their groups and their curriculum. This will allow you to pick a group based on location, subject, or your peers. Please start praying now.
- We know you can’t be at every Wednesday night session of your community group; however, you can plan to be at most. You will only go to the group meetings you make plans to be at.
- Sign up!