July Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. This one sentence in Acts 2:42 tells us a lot about life among the first converts to Christianity. These were Jews who heard Peter’s Spirit-filled proclama-tion of the Good News at Pentecost and committed their lives to following Jesus. As you might expect, their new life in Christ was marked by worship, study, and service, but equally important to them was bread breaking and fellowship (Greek: koinonia).

When we consider the marks of Christian discipleship, one aspect that tends to get overlooked is fellowship—the practice of koinonia. Koinonia is translated as “fellowship” in this Acts passage, but elsewhere in the New Testament it is translated as “communion [in the Holy Spirit]” and “sharing [in the body of Christ; in the gospel; in the Spirit; of faith].” As you can see, biblical fellowship is more than just sharing a cup of coffee with someone after worship. In its fullest sense, the fellowship described in the Bible means sharing our lives with one another. While this might begin with a cup of coffee, it doesn’t end there.

A powerful and profound aspect of fellowship is that whenever two or more gather in Jesus’ name, the Spirit is at work building the ties that bind us in Christ. It is easy to think this only happens when we face crises, significant life transitions, or experience loss or trauma; however, the truth is these bonds are built whenever we spend time with one another. Relationships formed around a cup of coffee, washing dishes in the kitchen, pounding nails at a Habitat for Humanity building site, in prayer, in small group settings, and so on are all important to growing Christ’s body. Koinonia is an essential part of the fabric of our Christian identity; discipleship is not a solo endeavor.

As we contemplate the meaning of Pentecost this month and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples for Christ’s work, I invite you to consider the Spirit’s role in building the bonds of koinonia among us. Where do you sense the Spirit building relationships between you and other believers? What opportunities do you see to extend Christian fellowship to others? How do your relationships with other be-lievers help you grow in faith (and vice versa)?

As I contemplate this myself, I praise God for the opportunities we have to share life in Christ with one another. I am cherishing every cup of coffee, every prayer, every en-counter at the store, and every moment at events like the All-Church retreat, that I’ve shared with you so far. I sense the Spirit at work in our koinonia and can’t wait to see how this will continue to grow in the months and years to come!

matt sig