What to Look for in a Church: Opportunity for Community and Fellowship
Have you ever visited a church and felt unwelcomed? Sadly, it happens.
Most of the time, church members don’t even realize they are being unwelcoming. They fall into a pattern – sitting in the same seats, talking to the same people, and parking in the same place. As a result, they only get to know those people they interact with in those same spaces on Sunday mornings.
Imagine trying to get to know someone you only said hello and goodbye to one day a week. It certainly wouldn’t be easy.
When you are looking for a church, you should look for a church that provides opportunities for people to step out of those comfortable spaces and get to know other church members.
If a church is only focused on sharing a fantastic Sunday sermon and ignores Monday-Saturday, it isn’t a healthy church. A healthy church is one that provides opportunities for church members to act as a family, get to know one another, and mature in their faith together.
The Church Is The Family We Need
If you’ve been in church circles, you’ve likely heard someone refer to the church they attend as their “church home.” You’ve also probably heard Christians refer to one another as “brothers and sisters in Christ.”
There is a good reason for both.
A home church refers to the church one is a member of. It’s more than just the place where they have chosen to worship. It’s a community of believers they have chosen to share their life with. Your home is your place. It’s where you live and interact with those closest to you daily. A home church is where you worship and interact with other believers regularly.
Christians refer to one another as “brothers and sisters” because we are all children of God. We are all part of God’s family.
It’s hard to feel like a family if you only go to church on Sunday, listen to the message, leave and return a week later. Instead, we should look for churches that encourage their members to behave like those in the early church.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:44-47
The Church Should Encourage Fellowship
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:42
A word used often in churches is “fellowship.” For example, there may be a Fellowship Hall, or someone may pray and thank God for “this time of fellowship.”
What does this mean?
Compelling Truth explains, “The New Testament word for ‘fellowship,’ koinonia, expresses the idea of being together for mutual benefit.”
Christians need to enjoy fellowship with one another because it benefits them. Fellowship provides opportunities for support, friendship, fun, and growth.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Got Questions explains, “The importance of true Christian fellowship is that it reinforces these things in our mind and helps us to focus on Christ and His desires and goals for us. As iron sharpens iron, in true Christian fellowship Christians sharpen one another’s faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works, all to God’s glory.”
Therefore, the church you are visiting should make a point of encouraging fellowship among its members.
The Church Should Promote Opportunities for Members to Engage With One Another
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:26-27
So how exactly does a church encourage fellowship among its members? They do this by creating events or meeting spaces where individuals can get to know others and be known by others.
This means thinking beyond the Sunday morning service, typically not an interactive discussion.
Look for churches that offer things like Sunday School classes, small groups, or men and women’s ministries.
Additionally, look for churches that offer fun events where you can get to know others in a more relaxed atmosphere, such as cookouts, Wednesday night dinners, or church sports leagues.
At South Bay Bible Church, we say, “Growing spiritually happens when we apply what Jesus says. Application happens best within the context of community. To mature spiritually, you have to be connected relationally.”
The Church Should Operate As a Team
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:4-5
Our sanctification is a team project (Eph. 4:1-16). God works spiritual maturity into us through communal life and ministry.
Radical explains, “When we say we had fellowship, we usually mean we got together with people with whom we share a similar life direction, value, and/or goal. We love Jesus, and so whether we are sitting in a restaurant, a deer stand, or a back porch with our Christian friends, there is an unspoken understanding: we are on the same team trying to move the ball in the same direction.”
Therefore, you should be on the hunt for a church that encourages community fellowship, unity, and opportunities to grow in your faith with others.