5 Things Your Christian Fellowship Community Needs

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does a Christian fellowship need to be healthy? What does the Bible say?

Christian fellowship is a big part of the life of a believer. Every fellowship community will look a little different, but they all should have the same basic elements: honesty, humility, courtesy, trust, and regularity.

Continue reading to learn more about the necessary ingredients for healthy Christian fellowship.

A Christian Fellowship’s Five Essential Elements 

It takes a lot of work to build a healthy, loving fellowship, but God reveals how to do so through his Word. The Bible outlines five elements that every healthy Christian fellowship community needs.

Element #1: Honesty

In a healthy Christian fellowship, members speak to one another directly but lovingly, as they would a member of their family, and tell the truth, even if it’s not the easiest thing to hear. Instead of turning away from conflict, they turn toward it—speaking with honesty to address problems, hold one another accountable, or correct one another’s actions. 

This type of honesty allows group members to work through issues instead of hiding them or diminishing them—actions that create underlying frustration or hurt in the group, eventually causing it to crumble. 

  • For example, a group member might leave because she found out that everyone was talking about her behavior instead of confronting her. Or, someone might leave because everyone ignored her issue, making her feel alone and resentful. 

Element #2: Humility

Pride creates walls between people because it prevents you from asking for help and makes you feel that you’re better than others—not prone to the same sorts of mistakes or feelings that they are. 

  • Prideful group members are likely to look down on other members when they’re experiencing normal, human struggles such as fear or doubt. This might prevent people from speaking honestly about their need for support.

Humility is essential in Christian fellowship because it opens you up to asking for help and helps you relate to others’ experiences. You help people the best you can, understanding that one day they’ll be helping you. There are several ways you can practice your humility, such as: 

  • Listening to corrections and suggestions without reacting defensively
  • Putting other group members in the spotlight by highlighting their accomplishments, interesting ideas, special acts of service, and so on  
  • Admitting your weaknesses and being open-minded about others’ weaknesses  

Element #3: Courtesy

Being courteous of others means being considerate of their feelings and respectful of their differences and exercising patience. 

  • For example, if someone expresses a fear that you don’t share, it’s not courteous to mock their feelings or brush them off. You should listen to them and validate their feelings, even if you don’t necessarily agree. 

Courtesy is especially important to remember when you’re dealing with someone that you find “difficult.” Difficult people are members of your spiritual family—they deserve all the courtesy and unselfish love you’d show other members. One way to better love difficult people is to attempt to understand them. Ask about their experiences, and learn about how their lives have shaped them. 

  • You may find that their “difficulty” stems from a place of insecurity, unmet emotional or social needs, trauma from their past, and so on. 

When you really know what’s inside of a person, it becomes much easier to show them patience, grace, understanding, and unselfish love.

(Shortform note: Read our summary of Everybody, Always for more ways to commit to acting with love and patience when dealing with imperfect people.)

Element #4: Trust

Your group not only has a duty to deal with any issues that a member brings up, but also to understand that these issues are shared in confidence—no one outside your group should find out about them.  

  • One thing to look out for is group members making gossipy “prayer requests” to people outside your group. This is an especially insidious way to gossip, as it uses the false guide of concern as a way to spread information. 

If someone is breaking your group’s trust, it’s vital that you confront them immediately and request that they stop. Their gossipy nature can easily divide or destroy your fellowship group if no one thinks they can trust one another.

Element #5: Regularity

Deep, meaningful relationships happen between people who spend a lot of time together—regular meetings will help create closeness within your group. These meetings shouldn’t be organized around convenience—this makes it all too easy for urgent, unimportant matters to get in the way. Your meetings should be a regular, steady spiritual touchpoint in your lives. Establish the importance of your meetings by having your group take a pledge to come to meetings regularly, even if it’s not what they want to do or it feels a bit inconvenient. Then, hold one another accountable—if members don’t show up to meetings, check in with them.

Christian fellowship is a cherished prize—well worth the effort it takes to cultivate it.

5 Things Your Christian Fellowship Community Needs

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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She has always appreciated nonfiction, especially about history, politics, and ideas. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. As a former intelligence analyst and a teacher of critical thinking skills, Elizabeth enjoys analyzing arguments on all sides of an issue. Her nonfiction preferences include theology, science, and philosophy. She studies the intersection of these three in pursuit of the highest truths. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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