Commentary: The gift of fellowship must be enriched, guarded


Several years ago, NASA launched its unmanned rocket Antares that was tasked with bringing supplies to the International Space Station. Six seconds after take-off, Antares suffered a “catastrophic anomaly” and exploded.

One early newscast suggested the rocket was veering off course and scientists on the ground destroyed it. That report proved inaccurate.

The rocket’s first-stage engines were identified as the cause of the failure. NASA used a different engine for subsequent launches. As I read about the catastrophic mishap, my thoughts jumped to another catastrophe: churches struggling with conflict undermining and endangering the fellowship.

I thought, that’s what happens when churches take their eyes off the Lord and their focus off their Christ-given mission. They open themselves up to problems that could cause the church to crash and burn.

The church’s fellowship is a gift requiring intentional enriching and protection. Fellowship is more than small talk over coffee before the Bible study starts, or a quick greeting at welcome time during the worship service. New Testament fellowship is deeper.

Fellowship is the sharing of life based on our common experience with Jesus and our common desire to live for Jesus. The first church experienced the sharing of life together: “Now all who believed were together and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44-45). They had a common Savior, a common mission, and a common need for encouragement, especially when persecution started.

These new believers needed one another and went over and above in their generosity to show care and concern. They were deeply committed to God and to each other. They enjoyed unity.

God expects us to take good care of His gift of fellowship. What can we do to enrich our church’s fellowship?

First, grow spiritually. Pastor Joseph Stowell wrote, “As we mature spiritually, we exhibit a growing capacity to care for and appreciate one another in the body of Christ, regardless of our differences.”

Second, undergird your church and ministers with prayer. Consistent, fervent prayer unlocks God’s power and wisdom.

Third, be present. Your presence means a lot. Be faithful to attend your Bible study and worship each week.

Fourth, participate. Move from attending to belonging, and from spectator to participant. Find your place of service and make your church stronger by getting involved.

Fifth, promote your church. Talk up the good things that are happening. Brag on your church. Invite others to attend.

Sixth, protect this precious fellowship. How? By not enabling destructive gossip. Listening to gossip is just as bad as passing it along. By not complaining or contributing to dissension and confronting those who “sow seeds of discord.” Don’t tolerate reckless speech. Instead, encourage one another and build each other up (I Thessalonians 5:11).

What sweetens the fellowship? When we love, assist, pray for, encourage, support, and forgive each other. And when we make unity a priority.

Chuck Swindoll wrote about a young woman named Linda traveling alone up the rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. Linda didn’t realize you don’t travel to Whitehorse alone in a rundown Honda Civic, so she set off where only 4-wheel drive vehicles go. The first evening she found a room in the mountains near a summit and asked for a 5 a.m. wakeup call so she could start early.

At 5 a.m., she found the mountains covered in fog, so she went to breakfast. Two truck drivers invited her to sit with them, and since the place was empty except for these early risers, she felt obliged. “Where are you headed?”


“What are you driving?”

“Honda Civic.”

“No way. This pass is dangerous in weather like this.

“Well, I’m going to try.”

“Then I guess we’ll have to hug you.”

Linda replied, “I don’t think so.”

“Not like that!” the truckers chuckled. “We’ll put one truck in front of you and one in the rear. We’ll get you through the mountains.”

All morning, Linda followed the two red lights in front of her and knew the other truck was right behind her as they made their way up the mountain.

What a picture of fellowship! Fellow believers leading the way safely ahead, and other believers encouraging us along, helping us navigate our journey. We need that kind of hug.


David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Watch services online at Learn more about Chancey’s writing ministry at