Teleios recently surveyed adolescents and millennials regarding Christian fellowship and community. The survey was promoted on the Christian Instagram accounts, InstaPray and GodsHolyScriptures. Of the 161 participants the majority were: female (72%), <35 years old (81%), from the United States (63%), and evangelical (73%).
A small majority (52%) of respondents indicated they participate in Christian fellowship at least once a week where biblical topics are discussed. In contrast, just over 25% noted they either never have fellowship, or do so only a few times a year. Fellowship generally is based around church events, most usually during and after church (61%), small group (48%), or other associated church events (46%).
Young believers recognize typically that the Bible teaches that Christians fellowship not only with each other (83%), but with all the members of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost [≥75%]). Further, 75% noted that fellowship is necessary for the Christian life.
Participants generally know they should actively seek fellowship with other Christians and they accomplish this most commonly by scheduling specific times with other believers (68%) and by acknowledging the good things Christ has done in others (63%).
Participants also responded that fellowship is good for them because of the joy it brings (81%), their gain from the godly example of other believers (77%) and the mental correction to the greater purposes God has compared to their own (76%).
Importantly, respondents who noted that fellowship was imperative for living the Christian life demonstrated higher wellbeing than those who did not (P=0.005).
The study suggests that adolescents and young adult Christians generally hold biblical views on fellowship. The results are encouraging as they suggest that fellowship concepts are learned early by believers and are generally biblically-based.
How do we fellowship as Christians?
Fellowship is foundational in the Christian life. How do we do it?
- Definition – The biblical word ‘fellowship’ is most closely expressed in the Greek by the word koinōnia (κοινωνία), and its derivatives, which mean basically ‘communion’ as well as the word metochē (μετοχή) which means ‘participation.’
- What does the Bible say about fellowship? – The Bible describes fellowship in the most general ways:
- It occurs only between Christians – This is because we cannot be encouraged or learn from those who do not have the Spirit or who do not understand the Christian faith (1 John 1:6-10; 2 Corinthians 6:14).
- Do not neglect – We are not to avoid fellowship. This is because it is good for us. It is also good for other people to see God working in us (Hebrews 10:15-18; Hebrews 13:15).
- Functional definition – In reality, the Bible does not give a lot of detail, or a singular text, defining ‘fellowship.’ However, functionally any interaction between Christians that is spiritually based, as described in the Bible, might be considered fellowship (Colossians 3:12-17; Ephesians 5:15-20).
- Why do we need fellowship? – The benefits of fellowship are assumed in scripture. As Christians, we need the example, as well as the verbal encouragement and reminders of God’s word from others, to help promote our own walk with God (1 Timothy 4:12-16). Likewise, our actions and speech provide this to other believers.
- What biblical fellowship is not – One benefit we derive from church is social fellowship around food, games, sports, weddings, parties, etc. However, these events may or may not include true fellowship which should have a spiritual basis.
- How do we fellowship? – True biblical fellowship can occur in many settings. Regardless the setting, biblical fellowship is framed in a lifestyle that is upstanding (1 Thessalonians 2:10) and speech that helps and encourages others (Ephesians 4:29). How do we do this? Here are some ideas:
- Know God’s word – This is important so you are speaking to others correct biblical truth and not church based jargon such as ‘That is not my gift’ or ‘I do not have a peace about that so I will not do it.’
- Plan ahead – Consider before meeting with a person how you might encourage them specifically with: gratitude, commendation, thought provoking questions, sharing God’s word or recounting what God has done in your life (Colossians 1:3-7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7; 1 Timothy 4:16). If you don’t know what to ask, check their social media accounts and learn about them. If you are attending a gathering, then choose one person to target for fellowship.
- Listen – Be sure and listen when conversing so you can learn and discover how you can even better encourage them (James 1:19).
- Control the environment – It can be very difficult to discuss godly matters in environments that are controlled by other people, such as festive activities or groups of people who are unbelievers or non-serious Christians. If you’re finding it difficult to have fellowship then create your own environments in which proper fellowship can occur, such as:
- Choose a meeting place that is quiet, where you will not have interruptions and where bible-based topics can be discussed.
- Choose the person or the people specifically to join you who also seek Christ and with whom excellent fellowship can occur.
Although your church may provide activities and worship services that can promote building relationships with other believers, generally fellowship is up to the individual to plan, pursue and accomplish. It takes a little effort, but God will use it in your life to encourage and teach you. Make true Christian fellowship a routine part of your life!
Join us again soon for another informative blog to help you in your Christian walk
All the findings of the survey can be found here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-WGHZ9QXPL/).