Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An outward focused fellowship

This is my third blog about my thoughts on the book, "Jim and Caspar go to Church". One of the themes that keeps coming up for Caspar is the idea that I will call 'fellowship'. There is a Greek word used often in the New Testament to express the relationship of people within the early church. It is called "koinonia" Koinonia means, "communion by intimate participation." It is a word that describes a community in which people are fully bonded together through their mutual love for and faith in Jesus Christ.

I think it is this idea of koinonia that is missing from many of our churches today and Caspar easily recognizes its absence when he is visiting churches with Jim. Caspar explains it by saying that people don't seem to be engaged in church (I talked about this two blogs ago) or he seems to constantly say that the people don't seem connected. Or that church just seems to be something that people are checking off of their list. I think he is probably right in all three descriptions. If Christians don't feel a sense of communion with the others they are worshiping with, then they are most likely not engaged, not connected, and just checking off their list.

Caspar senses something different however, when he visits his friend Jason's house church. Jason holds worship in his home with a small group of people, most of whom Caspar knows from different activities and events. They eat together, they pray together, they sing together, and they sit silently together. While the small numbers make Caspar feel a little uncomfortable, he says the following about the service: "And then, just like everywhere else, the call to worship was followed by prayer. And - maybe because I knew everyone, or maybe because of the intimate setting - it took on an intensity I haven't seen or felt anywhere else we've been, Jim...I could really see how deeply they felt what they were doing - these people whom I've seen in so many other settings - it was as if they'd just gotten naked in front of me." (pg. 81)

Caspar has finally witnessed a true Christian community in action, in communion with each other. He isn't quite sure what to make of it. He doesn't know if the people were "...communing more with each other or with God..." (pg. 82)but he does know that he has seen something different.

At Live Oak we want to encourage koinonia - to encourage communion within our community. We want folks to stay and talk to each other (while tearing down and loading up the trailer :) ), to begin forming friendships and relationships with everyone who comes on Sunday morning. But we also need to remember that when we have our 'group' of folks with whom we do have true communion and fellowship, we can't stop meeting other people. It is our job as Christians to continue to reach out and create new relationships with new people. Otherwise, a community that enjoys true koinonia, simply slips into disengagement and becomes a church where people go on Sunday mornings to check off their 'to do' list.

This coming Sunday, I would like to challenge all of us to meet someone new and learn one thing about them that we can remember. Let's start to create and environment that will make Live Oak into more than a church - it will make it into a community.