Last Saturday, for only the second time in my life I missed a preaching appointment during a meeting due to sickness. I don’t know if was something I ate, or just a “24 bug,” but I hadn’t been that sick in a long time.
As a result, I not only missed preaching Saturday night, but a Cracker Barrel breakfast with the elders and several brethren, and a steak dinner with two other couples.
While I was able to make it through 3 sermons on Sunday, we were not able to meet with a group for lunch or enjoy fellowship with anyone Sunday evening. So, my contact with the brethren and the ability to get to know people was very limited.
Although I did get to preach 4 of 5 lessons, I realized how much I missed. While the purpose of the meeting is not about eating, socializing, and making new friends, it is one of the wonderful serendipities we enjoy in church fellowship. We missed the opportunity to share ideas, encourage one another, and fortify the connection of our commonality in Christ.
It also made me think of how many people I’ve observed through the years who’ve missed out on occasions to strengthen their relationships with fellow Christians. They may attend almost every service but have limited association apart from the worship service.
They may come in late and leave early. Never attend a potluck. Never extend hospitality to other Christians. Never go out to eat with any members. Never join a small group. Never attend a party, social function, or celebration hosted by fellow Christians. And basically, never get involved with anyone else.
I feel very sorry for such people. They have missed out on one of the beautiful blessings and benefits of fellowship in the local church.
It’s apparent from the Acts record that the first century Christians spent time together outside of the assembly. Ate together. Prayed together. Shared life together. “Now all who believed were together…breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Ax.2:42-47).
Association separate from the actual worship service provides an opportunity to encourage one another. Build one another up. Understand one another. Know about each other’s needs, problems, and challenges. Bear one another’s burdens. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. And develop a familial affection befitting of our identity as “the family of God.”
Remember, as the late Dee Bowman once wrote, “It’s all about the people.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman