There are two common definitions for the word “fellowship”. The first defines fellowship as a friendly association of people who share a common interest. The second defines fellowship as a group of people that are in an official group. In the case of the church, I believe both apply. A church body should be more than a bunch of people meeting in a space to receive information from the Pastor, it should be more akin to a family gathering or people who come together to celebrate their shared passions.
In Tolkien’s book “The Lord of the Rings” a group of unlikely characters rally together united in a common goal, and they refer to themselves as a fellowship. Over the course of the story, this fellowship become more than strangers … they become friends, then really family. They break bread with one another, face trials with one another, loss and grief, life and hope with one another. By the end of the story, there is a deep and binding connection among the fellowship that endures even when life separates them.
This type of relationship is something that many are striving for, especially our women. Yet, time and time again, I hear about how lonely they are. In a world where we are connected instantly to one another, at the touch of a button, fellowship is an areas where we seem to be lacking greatly. A ministry that is spending all of it’s time teaching is going to develop women who are Biblically smart, but without an emotional connection it will remain superficial … like a group of professors in a collegiate fellowship. Sharing ideas, asking questions, etc. To get to the emotional connectedness, women in particular need opportunities to live life alongside one another.
Fellowship has to extend beyond Bible Studies and Small Group, and into opportunities to get to know one another at a personal level. We should be careful to not focus so much on fellowship that we neglect teaching, but rather find a balance where we are building a community that is growing in connection and in knowledge. When scheduling social events with the women in your church, we need to make sure that they are also events that are connecting the women to Christ. This doesn’t require teaching per say, but opportunities to model Christlikeness.
- Help your women develop authentic relationships with one another.
- Deep connectedness where they can lean on each other in times of trial.
- Creating family connections, particularly women who are not near their family.
- Open the doors for women to invite their family, friends, and co-workers.
- Transition new members into the family of believers, guiding toward Small Groups.