If you are a church goer, you might have heard this word called “Fellowship.”
Fellowship, is a Christianese word some people use. It’s Christianese for “let’s go hang out”. The attempt of the word “Fellowship” is to have a conversations that “edify the Lord”.
As a church goer, I have been to many “Fellowships”. If you are looking to have “Fellowship”, here is the general recipe for good Christian Fellowship.
a) After service, spend 30-45 minutes debating which restaurant everyone should go to.
b) Gather at decided restaurant. In a large table. If everyone cannot fit at table, bring more chairs to cause fire hazard.
c) Order water. Be rude to waiter or waitress who cannot get you water in a sufficient type.
d) Don’t leave tip. If possible, leave Bible tract or encouraging sign how “The Lord loves them”.
In reality, this is not always the case. Once in a while, you can engage in an interesting conversation or two. Many good friends have been made by this Fellowship. Even some dates and marriages.
There is also another factor in Fellowship. Every once in a while in these gatherings, there will be one who seems really spiritual. They will often talk about the Lord. They might even talk about some miraculous happenings in their life. How they came from a drastic situation, like the streets or drugs. Or they escaped a cult. It catches the attention of some at the table. Their eyes pop. Maybe as you are in one conversation, your ear is slightly perked to this conversation. You and everyone else is so amazed by the miracle. Praise the Lord, a soul is saved. A connection is made. Phone numbers and Facebook friend requests abound.
Next week, we connect again. The person that has caught everyone’s attention now has control of the conversation. The person now might ask someone at the table “What is your testimony?”.
The person asked feels a little sheepish. They were brought up in a Christian home. But they have lost that fire……
The person interrupts. They tell another story about another miracle in their life. Eyes bulge. People listen. They might even lead in a prayer. Someone might even think they should talk to the pastor so their testimony can be shared to the church. You know, so we can all be encouraged in the Lord.
More time passes. The conversations with this person continues. They continue to talk about the Lord. They might bring in a Bible. The thick ones that make them look like a person of God. However as the conversations continue, you notice some things that are not…. what would be the word for it…. consistent. There is something sitting not right in your gut and you can’t figure out exactly what it is. Maybe you ask someone, and they remind you of the grace of God. But there is still something gnawing at your gut that this isn’t quite right. You think, maybe it is Satan playing tricks with your mind.
In some cases, eventually there becomes an incident that causes a division in the group. Perhaps this person is in the middle of it. Some know the story, but there is an awkward hush around it. No one wants to talk for fear of gossip. Friendships end. People switch churches. In some cases, faith is ruined.
This comes to my mind because there was a recent story here in a church in Calgary. It’s a story of someone who was described as a father figure, and very trustworthy. He seems to have a kindness for women with sons. He became a church leader.
Unfortunately, he was charged with possession of child pornography. He was taking advantage of young boys sexually. He made friends of mothers and earned the trust of sons. The lawyer said he has never seen so much child pornography owned by one person.
I was reading some comments and some perspectives from some people. Some blame the church. Some blame the leadership in the church. Based on what I know, the church has some great people who attend it. It has been an influential church in the City of Calgary for years. And this isn’t the only church in the city that something like this has happened. There was another incident in another church within the last couple of years. Who to blame and why this happened is truthfully anyone’s guess. Without knowing the entire story, the only real thing to say is this was awful.
I do wonder about a couple of things though. These are things I was thinking about reading the story. How well do we really know people? I mean, really know people? We get impressed with the idea or the image of someone? In church circles things are said like “He really loves the Lord” or “He has a heart for God”. It creates a spiritual pillar of someone who maybe is not what we think. I see that particularly in our observation of church leadership. There is such an impression with words, songs, talents and eloquence, that we don’t actually take the time to know who they are. We get ideas, positively or negatively about someone without knowing someone.
The second thing I was wondering about is this. That little gnaw in your gut about something that doesn’t feel or seem right. How much is that ignored? The gnaw comes and somehow you convince yourself that it is nothing. Then it comes back. You then argue it away. Then something happens and you realize why you have had it in the first place. Should that gnaw be explored more?
Was this person really known or did someone have an uncomfortable gnaw? I don’t know. Maybe I would guess the answer is both. I don’t know.
I do know that I need to take the time to know more about people. And spend time with them. Ask the right questions. And also be available to do the same for others.