How Fellowship and Discipleship Work Together

Disciplemaking Requires True Koinonia – Not Just Kool-Aid and Casseroles

Guest Post by Cam Taylor

There are two definitions of fellowship. One type is defined as “a friendly relationship among people” or “a group of people who have similar interests.” The other kind is the English word used to translate the Greek word koinonia, and means “communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything.”

I know this because of the journey I went on after a serious motorcycle accident that was followed by a three year recovery process. I learned firsthand the benefit of having koinonia style fellowship as I walked out my journey with Jesus.

One of the best ways to explain true fellowship is to use an illustration from a favorite story of mine by J.R.R. Tolkien entitled The Lord of the Rings. The main character, Frodo, was given the responsibility to carry a powerful ring over treacherous terrain to Mordor and destroy the ring there.

The success of Frodo’s journey would rest in large part on the help of a group of friends called “the fellowship of the ring.” These traveling companions were not allowed to carry the ring directly but were called upon to support Frodo as he carried it. There is a scene near the end of the journey that captures the essence of fellowship. When a character named Sam saw Frodo collapse under the weight of the ring’s burden, Sam instantly picked Frodo up in his arms and said, “Frodo, I may not be able to carry the ring, but I can carry you!”

Superficial fellowship

When I grew up, I experienced firsthand the first type of fellowship. We had these potluck meals downstairs after church. We drank orange Tang, talked about the weather, and ate casseroles. It was sunny weather kind of fellowship.

Superficial fellowship.

In the New Testament, when Jesus met the crowds, he filled their belly’s but it was for many people, Tang-drinking, casserole-eating type of fellowship.

What he cultivated with his disciples was something deeper.

True Fellowship – the kind Jesus came to demonstrate and establish

In Acts 2:42 we read, “They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together (the fellowship), the common meal, and the prayers.” (TM)

When the church exploded on the scene – there was a need for something more than superficial connection – they needed to come together or they would come apart.

Their leaders had been taught the importance of deeper fellowship by Jesus – who modelled it for 3 years – now they were ready to reproduce what he had taught them.

The going would be tough – they would need more than their own grit and determination – they would need each other. Just a few of the koinonia type of fellowship included words like: “Love one another” (Romans 13:8); “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10); “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7); “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2); and “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32).

Fellowship is = Standing Alone Together

Two ingredients you need to survive and thrive during times of adversity are internal strength of character and a band of brothers and sisters standing with you. The first paratroopers in the US Army, called Easy Company, had these two ingredients. One of the company’s regular training drills was to run up and down a three-mile hill called Currahee, which means, “We stand alone together.”

The hill became a symbol of the deep bond forged between the soldiers as they prepared for the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the battles that followed. Each paratrooper did stand alone at the airplane door before jumping, but once the battle began, they lived and fought together.

It was said that “They depended on each other, and the world depended on them.”

In one sense, you have to be able to stand alone when called upon to jump – to walk through deep water, to muster courage to have that conversation, to step out in faith – go through loss or a painful experience.

But there’s more you and I need. We need together to happen!

I had some deep bonds of fellowship forged when I’ve gone through battles. I’ve built bonds with others as they went through life altering loss and hardship. It’s ongoing.

When I was going through my deepest waters, in humility, I let others help me when I couldn’t help myself. Then when those in my fellowship were at their lowest point, I can look back and see those moments when I’ve been there for others.

My fellowship mattered when a storm hit my life

There was a long list of people who helped me weather the storms and fight the battles I couldn’t fight on my own. None of them could take my suffering away and carry it themselves because that was mine to carry. What they could do was take the journey with me and carry me as I carried my burden. Their practical and helpful actions included the following:

  • My fellowship showed up and sat with me without feeling the need to say anything.
  • My fellowship sent emails and texts to remind me they were thinking of me and praying for me.
  • My fellowship picked up the phone and called to chat for a few brief minutes at just the right times.
  • My fellowship shared their own pain with me as a means of being real and authentic.
  • My fellowship shared their pleasures with me so I could celebrate with them.
  • My fellowship allowed me to help them by giving advice, buying them lunch, and offering a prayer.
  • My fellowship cried with me or let me cry with them without me feeling the need to squelch my tears.
  • My fellowship laughed with me by sharing a video or funny story.
  • My fellowship took the initiative to do the chores I couldn’t do.

For Reflection

How are you nurturing true fellowship in your life as a follower of Jesus?

Has Your Life Been Rerouted?

We are grateful to Cam Taylor for sharing from his three-year journey to recovery after a very serious motorcycle accident.

You’ll want to buy Cam’s latest book called Detour: A Roadmap For When Life Gets Rerouted (download the introduction and  first chapter now).

This book is for you if:

  • You find yourself on a detour right now
  • You have been on a detour but are still working through the impact it had on you
  • You know a detour is in your future and would like to prepare
  • You are walking with someone on a detour and could use some support

Order Detour  from the store of your choice and get some great free bonuses. Go to https://camtaylor.net/detour to learn more. Also, check out The Detour Journal which includes daily inspirational quotes, journal prompts to give you ideas when journaling, and resources for further learning.

You can purchase Detour on Amazon.com in paperback or kindle.

Bonus Offer

Cam has created a  7-day email course called 7 Habits of Highly Resilient People – You get the course plus weekly inspiration for tenacious living!

Today’s Missional Challenge

Make disciples of those around you by helping them carry their burdens.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author

Cam Taylor

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Cam Taylor has been working with leaders, teams, and organizations for over 30 years. He grew up on the Canadian prairies but eventually found his way to the west coast of Canada 27 years ago. He spent 21 years as a pastor before transitioning to a career as a coach and consultant. He has always enjoyed bring out the best in people and working with those who are eager to learn and grow. He is the author of Detour: A Roadmap For When Life Gets Rerouted - available on amazon (http://amzn.to/2ukxJJ4).
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