Posts Tagged 'fellowship'

Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship

Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship Sermon Audio Here

Acts 2:42-47

Moving from “Saying Grace” to receiving gratefully; the simple act of eating reminds me every day that God gracefully gives me what I need. Food does that. Eating together with others who recognize it as well adds layers of meaning. Fellowship is important!

What’s The Function of Fellowship?

Fosters Devotion Together~ Acts 2:42 (Fellowship builds our faith)

  • 42 A} “devoted”=continued steadfastly 1) ongoing choice 2) consistent
  • B} “THE fellowship” =NOUN; group of participating partners
  • C} “breaking of bread” same verb used to describe regular meals as well as Lord’s Supper, early church practice was to share a regular meal followed by Communion =POTLUCKS ARE BIBLICALLY IMPORTANT

Furthers Desire For God~ Acts 2:43-47 (Fellowship helps others see God at work)

  • 43 God kept on working among them; they responded in careful awe
  • 44/5 NOT “live in a commune” but shared their lives together
  • 46 Notice again the emphasis on the meal; they even shared the location among themselves (house-to-house-to-house); you may not realize it, but when you have people over for a barbecue, that CAN BE A SPIRITUAL ACT
  • 47 fellowshipping, done rightly, draws people into God’s presence and enables them to be saved

“The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard… travel may be a flight from confronting the scared– this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”
― Abraham H. Maslow

Others understand what the Christian life is like when they see it in US.

Advertisements

NACCC – more like a potluck than a denomination

Celebrate NACCC Omaha banner As I write this, Jami and I have just returned from the 60th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Doesn’t that long name sound like a mouthful? What I found most interesting out of the entire meeting is not the content of the business meetings, but the fellowship.A few weeks ago, I was trying to describe what our National Association was like. It’s technically a denomination (we have a home office in Oak Creek, Wisconsin), but we don’t act like a denomination. We don’t have a college – we ask ministers to take classes in Congregational history and polity.

We don’t have a retirement plan for our ministers – ministers are invited to enroll in the American Baptist retirement fund, the MMBB.

We don’t have our own missionaries – we find others who are doing God’s work, and support them there. We’re a lot more like a National Potluck than a denomination.

And here’s the thing: potlucks only work if everyone contributes. Have you ever been to a potluck where no one brought anything to eat, and maybe just a few cans of soda? I have (ahem, 25 years of youth ministry), and it’s a dismal sight… especially for those who were planning on actually eating something of substance. But if no one is willing to contribute, then the potluck looks pretty bare.

I am so thankful to you all for allowing Jami and I to contribute to the National Association; it definitely recharges my spiritual batteries to hear excellent Bible teaching, to learn about Congregational history, to spend time encouraging others and being encouraged from all over the country. Please look forward with me to the next Pacific Northwest meeting which will be in Anchorage, Alaska from April 30-May 2, 2015 (we’re planning on having some kind of electronic two-way video connection like we did with Ingle Chapel), and for the 61st Annual Meeting of the National Association in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jami and I are planning on driving down, and we’d love to have a convoy!

One of our strengths is that we do not all believe exactly the same thing; there is variety in the NACCC… just like a good potluck should have. As the Word says, in Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Keep Following Jesus,
Pastor Ed

Beyond Coffee as “fellowship”

Image

Thoughts on 1 Peter 1:8-16

8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

I read an article today that *really* caught my attention about starting a coffee shop. Let me share the major points from that article with you, but with an eye to sharing the Gospel, not just a great cup of coffee. “Today, I wanted to… [share] three tips for anyone mulling over the idea of starting a coffee shop, preparing to open one, and maybe even those who already run one.

1. Carefully Navigate the Trends

“…chances are your eye will catch what’s new, cool, hip and trendy. Be wary.”

2. Be the Coffee Person

“There is, however, an opportunity for true quality coffee shops out there that deliver on the promise of what’s preached.”

3. Build a Culture of Taking Care of People

“But at the core it’s about everyone being there to take care of people. We need to start from a point of honoring the space that coffee occupies in people’s lives.”

  • Verses 8-9: “we are receiving the goal of our faith” – We dare not get caught up in the the latest Christian trends for the sake of the trends themselves. Let us remind one another that it is salvation that matters.

  • Verses 10-12: “searched intently and with the greatest care” – Just as the article pointed out the need to keep the main thing the main thing, how much more do we, who are living in the Kingdom?

  • Verses 13-16: “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you” – We care for others as we live holy lives, worshiping Jesus through our every day choices and interactions.

Thoughts on the NACCC

This is a portion of a letter that I wrote to another church; they are considering becoming a part of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, the group to which my congregation belongs. I thought that some of my readers might enjoy these thoughts about the NA…
To give you a bit of background on my personal journey: I wasn’t raised with any kind of faith, became a follower of Jesus when I was 17, and got involved with various different groups of Christians, each contributing something to my development as a follower of Christ.
 
1) the Christian /Church of Christ emphasized living out their faith in response to the Word. 
2) the Foursquare church emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit. 
3) the Swedish Baptist church taught me to work through the text of Scripture line-by-line.
4) the Evangelical Free church taught me the importance of family in faith formation.
5) the Church of God, Anderson taught me the perils of power as a substitute for obedience.
6) the Presbyterian church showed me that a purposeful, thoughtful Christian life was possible.
7) the NACCC brought me full circle, reinforcing Jesus as the Head of the Church.
 
What I’ve learned about the NACCC is that the use of power and authority isn’t a preferred method to be the people of God. 
 
Our congregation was originally a German Congregational church (that denomination used to be around about 100 years ago), and they placed great emphasis on personal piety, communal experience of faith, and practical service to Christ. Then, in the 1950’s when the UCC was started, we joined that group. However, we discovered that over time, the UCC placed more and more emphasis on hierarchical structure, and the controls that go with it (especially in regards to what was considered to be “acceptable theology”). That was not at all who we are as a church; and so, our congregation left the UCC in 2003.
 
The NACCC is an association of fellowship, not an organization of control. We have churches in our national fellowship who are far more theologically liberal than we are… and we have churches that are much more conservative. Where we stand on various issues is *not* the determining factor of our organization. We come together to fellowship with one another as we each follow Christ as the Head of the church. There is no denominational control, no edicts from on high, no memos from the Central Office that tell us what we must do, or how we must do it.
 
This allows our little congregation to focus on its mission of following Jesus the best way it knows how, and we still can get together with other churches who are doing the same thing if not in the same way.
 
Personally, I consider it a strength when I’m able to be in a room with 100 other ministers, knowing full well that I’d probably disagree with them on various points of doctrine– but still having sweet fellowship because we recognize the Lord is in our midst, and it is the Spirit which allows us to experience the bond of unity while living with methods of diversity.
 
To close — I’m a BIG fan of the NACCC. It’s not restrictive on in matters of theology (we don’t make our ministers sign theological creeds like the CCCC), and it’s not dictative on matters of social conscience (like the “still speaking” campaign of the UCC). At the risk of sounding like a fairy tale, it’s “just right”.
 
Grace and peace to you as you seek to follow the Lord’s leading!
 
Keep Following Jesus,
Ed

Pastor Ed Backell

Flickr Photos

Pastoral Tweets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 175 other followers

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: