Category Archives: Fellowship

Hospitality – A New Testament Value and Duty

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Acts 2:42, 46,47

Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Now the overseer must be…hospitable. 1 Timothy 3:2

There is something mystically bonding when true hospitality occurs. The more a church becomes building oriented, the more this spiritual activity will atrophy. In a healthy church, hospitality and table fellowship are occurring in families and across families. There is nothing quite like breaking physical bread together while sharing how we have feasted on Jesus, the bread of life.

Hospitality is not entertaining. There is a place for entertaining in life. Entertaining is fun. Entertaining is about having a sparkling house and sparkling food and sparkling activities. Entertainment conjures up images of a candlelit living room with hors d’oevers and a fire in the fireplace and several courses to the meal. That makes my mouth water just thinking about it. But that is not hospitality. That is a party. There is a place for parties.

Hospitality is simple. Hospitality is sharing Christ with each other as we share the food we have. It is keeping the meal simple enough so that the fellowship, not the food, is the focus. It is putting food together so that everyone, including the hostess, can enjoy the time. It is asking questions about the others walk with Christ, his or her understanding of God, or living the Christian life. It is all pitching in to clean up.

What are the barriers to hospitality? Every barrier is in fact a spiritual barrier.

Some do not practice hospitality because they do not think they have a nice enough home or apartment. They would be embarrassed if someone saw how they lived. Their house, they think, is too small or too simple. This perhaps is a temptation for the women among us.

Some Christians do not see hospitality as a priority to spend their time and money on. In addition, for some men, their home is their castle. Having people over is for our wives to worry about. Having people over does take time and money.

But it is a biblical command for both men and women. And hospitality is not just about food. It is about spiritual communion. It’s about providing spiritual rest. It’s about asking good questions over good food. It’s about giving our children time to interact with other adults.

As we grow into this new building, let us continue to grow in the spiritual ministry of hospitality. And let those who are especially given to this ministry know how important they are to the body!

More Questions – This time from Tim Shorey

The use of questions to help people see the needs and issues of their hearts is a common biblical approach to personal care and correction.* It is not the only valid approach but it is an extremely effective one. One of its advantages (in contrast to a more informational and advice-giving approach) is that it allows people to hear their own thoughts and attitudes without having to be told them by others. In this way, under the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the process of conviction goes on more personally and directly.**

If you obtain my full booklet on this topic (Live Together or Die Alone: a Call to Radical Fellowship), you will see an example from my own life of when I was led into seeing my own heart through a brother’s effective use of questions. In that situation, I do not think I would have seen my heart as clearly if I had been approached by someone loaded with observations and words of wisdom or correction to bring to my attention. The use of gentle questions was effective in opening my heart to see my own issues without proud defensiveness or argument.

Here is a list of questions that can be useful for our conversations/fellowship together:
1. What evidences of grace are you experiencing these days (i.e.-clear signs of growth in Christ and joy in the gospel)?
2. What is one specific truth you gained from that sermon or study or book?
3. What is one specific application of it that you plan to make in your life?
4. What are you struggling with these days?
5. What are biblical terms for this struggle?
6. Why do you think you are struggling with it?
7. How might your view of God affect this struggle?
8. How does the gospel affect you in this battle?

More Questions

These are from my mentor, Dave Gadoury.

  1. How would you describe what has been happening in your walk with God in the past months?
  2. What is one joy and one struggles you’re experiencing in your life or ministry?
  3. How would you describe your walk with God in the past year?
  4. Where do you feel you would most like to grow as a Christian?
  5. Could you give me a sketch of your spiritual history?
  6. What’s one thing you discovered recently in your devotional life?
  7. What have been some ups and downs in your spiritual life since coming to Christ?
  8. What do you need from me as a friend and fellow believer to go on to maturity in Christ?

Questions to Stimulate Fellowship Beneath the Surface

The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5, NIV)

As a shepherd, we should be skillful in the use of questions to draw out those in our church.  In addition, we need to be equipping others to use questions to draw out others.

I’d like to encourage you to grow in a habit that is sorely needed in our church.  So many, when they get together with other Christians, never get below the surface.  The talk is of the weather, the sports of the season, the big project at work.  Whether this is done at the back of the church building on Sunday, in a living room during the week, or at someone’s house over a meal, this passes in most people’s mind for Christian fellowship.  But somehow, when it says the early church devoted themselves to the fellowship, I can’t believe this is what they were actually doing.  As this shallow talk perpetuates eventually those who have tasted of real fellowship become the minority and what I am about to suggest seems strange rather than the norm.

The word fellowship is the word koinonia which means to share in common.  So fellowship is to share something in common.  The world has “fellowship” everyday around the weather, the big game last night or the latest big work project.  We as Christians share something much deeper, the Lord Jesus and His active work within us.  So true Christian fellowship occurs when we are sharing the Lord Jesus.  And that occurs as we talk about Him and His work within us and listen to others share about His work within them.

The early church devoted themselves to this.  This was not just haphazard. It was something they valued and held dear – on the par of ministry of the word and prayer.  So when a Christian habitually (not occasionally due to illness, etc.) walks out of a service or small group meeting without interacting with other Christians on a deeper level something is missing.  When this characterizes a church, something very important missing.  In the same way, the daily spontaneous connections within a church are so vital.  When these are consistently around something other than the Lord and his kingdom (even good things) then the spiritual level of the church will go down. This is why I am writing you.  The desire to interact on a deeper level comes from the Lord.  But the skills necessary for this to happen can be learned.

How to put this into practice? Arrive early at church (or SG) and plan to stay later than the end of the service.   Both before and after the service breathe a prayer to the Lord asking him to show you who to interact with.   Ask the normal questions that go with regular social interaction but rather than ending the conversation or pursuing those topics further than needed, catch up with them spiritually by asking a spiritually probing question. Remember, Scripture says that the purposes of man’s heart are deep waters but a man of understanding draws him out. Use the ones in the following list that seems most appropriate or that you are most comfortable with.

  1. What has God been doing in your life lately?
  2. What’s been going on with you spiritually this week?
  3. What’s your biggest challenge these days?
  4. How do you see God at work in your family/ the church lately?
  5. What has the Lord impressed on you in the word lately?
  6. What new insight has God given you recently?
  7. What particular praise or promise has God place on your heart recently?
  8. Have you been reading any good books lately?  What have you been learning?
  9. What has the Lord been teaching you lately?
  10. How can I pray for you? (And do pray the following week.)
  11. What are you asking God for that I can pray for along with you?
  12. Tell me something to encourage me!

I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at how open most people will be and the blessings of interacting at this level.  Likewise, most people will ask you that same question in return.  You might write the questions you like best in the flyleaf of your Bible so that it can prompt you if you are at a loss for something to ask.

I cannot tell you how important this type interaction is to the health and strength of a church.  Those times surrounding a service, shepherding group meeting or over at each other’s house for a meal are times when the Lord just seems to stand in your midst, ministering to you and the person you are talking to.  There will be times you will encourage the person, times their answer will be just what you need to hear and there will be times their eyes will well up with tears that someone cares to interact with them on that level.  I urge you to ask the Lord for a desire to minister this way and the skills to ask good questions.