Most churches could use a boost in their level of fellowship. Here is how to encourage your members to have more—and better—fellowship.
- Form small groups. If you haven’t already started, develop a small group program. It’s hard to cultivate strong relationships with people in a crowd. Bringing together groups of ten people or so is a much more effective way to foster fellowship.
- Host a meal. Somehow, we tend to have good fellowship over meals. When people slow down and have a time of mutual enjoyment, fellowship can easily follow. From the Bible we understand that fellowship and the Lord’s Supper have an integral connection, and the early church even held a love feast that was designed to facilitate more fellowship. Meals help.
- Devote a weekly gathering to fellowship. Some churches are making bold steps to rearrange weekly services in such a way that will enhance fellowship. Keeping in mind that fellowship isn’t just about food and fun times, it may be helpful to have a church service that focuses on personal and spiritual interaction. It may begin with a general meeting or a short challenge to the congregation. It may then conclude with a time where smaller groups meet to pray, discuss application, and read Scripture.
- Use Facebook for interaction. It’s an indicator of the age in which we live: some people fellowship better on Facebook. Don’t dismiss social media as a means of fellowship. While we must be always be careful, it is possible and helpful to have profitable spiritual fellowship on social media platforms.
- Speak on the subject of fellowship. The Bible has a lot to say about fellowship. Explain to your people the importance, the method, and the practice of biblical fellowship. Be clear in the practical applications of how that ought to affect their lives.
- Encourage and arrange for fellowship opportunities outside of church. Not all fellowship needs to go on at the church or even during official church functions. Some of the best type of fellowship happens spontaneously during the week. To this end, encourage interaction among your people throughout the week. It may be men carpooling to work, play dates among children and young mothers, weekend grill outs among families, or any other creative opportunity. One large church I know of organized churchwide fellowship meals, randomly bringing together two or three families and individuals in homes for a potluck meal. In this way, fellowship took place outside the church, using a casual atmosphere for meeting new people and fostering closer interaction.
- Plan a picnic. Some churches have found that the picnic is a key feature of church life. Something about the open air, a softball game, and Styrofoam cups helps to improve fellowship.
- Pray more. The Scripture speaks of prayer and fellowship in tandem. Praying together is one of the best forms of Christian fellowship. Whether in a Wednesday night prayer meeting, a Saturday morning prayer breakfast (emphasis on the prayer, not the breakfast) or some other weekday event, you can help to improve both the fellowship and prayer in your church. Be sure to have people pray in small groups rather than as a collective group.
- Encourage ministry together. Along the same lines, good fellowship takes place when people come together for a common purpose. Use opportunities to minister in your community as a means of enhancing the fellowship among your people. Groups can volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen, clean up trash along the side of the road, rake leaves for the elderly, help do repairs on a disabled person’s home, or have a car wash. The unity that ministry brings is remarkable; it will empower fruitful fellowship.
10. Use volunteers more. One way to get churchgoers plugged into church life and brought into closer fellowship is to have them serve in a volunteer capacity at the church. Rather than pay for lawn service, use volunteers to mow the grass and trim the hedges. Instead of a full-time media director, train volunteers how to operate the soundboard. Besides improving involvement in the church, your members will also be improving their fellowship as they serve on volunteer teams together.
Biblical fellowship is more than talking about sports or gossiping about church life. Biblical fellowship is about encouraging one another to love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24). Creatively consider new ways to enhance more interaction and to improve the quality of fellowship in your church life, deepening your congregation’s experience, and growing your church in the process.