Enjoying Fellowship - Shaping Ministry to Youth, Young Adults, and Their Families, Part 3
This is part 3 in this series of posts.
If you haven’t already, please take time to read parts 1 and 2.
Christ Redeemer Church wants to see God’s kingdom advance through the gospel of Jesus Christ for the Glory of God and the joy of all peoples. Under that broad vision, we want to see young people loving Jesus together with others who love Jesus. That’s the thrust of our second vision pillar:
Enjoying Fellowship: We want to help young people and their parents and the church understand, practice, and crave biblical fellowship more than mere friendship or fun.
“I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts... Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies” (Ps.119:63, 79).
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (Ps.66:16).
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Pr.13:20).
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).
Biblical fellowship consists in the mutual encouragement of those who are in Christ. Those who fear God turn to others who fear God to exhort, encourage, and help one another as needed. Fellowship deepens as one Jesus-lover turns to another Jesus-lover and energizes him with stories of how God has cared for his soul. Fellowship is a means of God’s grace to his people for their growth in wisdom. It’s a protection for us against the deceitfulness of sin. That’s the aim of relationships we want for our young people, especially at a time in their lives when friendship is such a significant priority. And that’s good. Friendship is good. It is not, however, an end to be pursued in and of itself. Rather, friendship is one of God’s sweet gifts to provide a context in which fellowship can flourish.
So, we want friendships to blossom among our young people, but not at the expense of biblical fellowship. CJ Mahaney says that fellowship “is not just another word for social activities... Social activities can’t be equated or confused with fellowship... [They] can create a context for fellowship, but they are a place to begin - not a place to remain” (Why Small Groups, 12). What Mahaney says of “social activities” could also be said of friendship and all of the many ways it is cultivated and maintained. We want friendships to flourish among our young people as a context for fellowship, an entry point to lasting satisfaction in Jesus and his people. The by-product of such relationships is anything but boredom. Light-hearted and short-term pleasure (i.e., “fun”) certainly follows, but deeper, long-lasting joy in Christ is the real reward.
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