Dear BPCWAians, With the variety of fellowship groups and Bible Studies in the church, there is at least one whereby every worshipper in church can participate in. We have fellowship groups for everyone, from Teens to Working Adults to Seniors, Chinese and English speaking, Men and Ladies. Why do we take the trouble to organise such groups? What is the purpose for fellowship groups in church? We answered these questions in last week’s Pastoral. But some may still wonder – I regularly attend Worship every Sunday. Isn’t that enough?

Why should I be interested in attending these? The answer is simply because you are part of the body of Christ. In a day and age of modern technology, some may be tempted to think “why travel to church when I can download the message later and listen to the recording in my own time at home?” Such thinking is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Because of such erroneous thoughts, some may think that there is simply no need to come to church for fellowship meetings or even on Sundays. The Bible expressly prohibits such thought “Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” God’s purpose in saving you is for you to be part of a church. God created us and knows what is best for us. We need to be part of fellowships in church. This is God’s design and intent. It is part of our responsibility to minister to others, and, when we are weak, to be ministered unto by others. It also means you should not run off after fellowship meetings. Believers should get to know each other so that we can help each other spiritually and physically too. So, fellowships should not be seen as “optional”. Instead, fellowships should be an integral part of a Christian’s life. It is every Christian’s duty toward God and toward our fellow brethren.

What is my role in fellowship groups? As discussed earlier, Bible studies and fellowship groups have a dual purpose, ie, 1) sharing mutual encouragement and genuine help while 2) having the central basis of the teaching of the Word. Bible studies are always built into the fellowship programs. But the objective of mutual encouragement, help and building godly friendships is where you come in. These gatherings are organised with the intent to allow more interactions between fellow worshippers, a time to catch up and help others. Don’t be in a rush to pack up and leave. In a sense, this is where you can minister to others. “Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Christ often went out of His way to seek out those that needed spiritual encouragement. There may be some who are new to church or even just new to a fellowship group, and may feel left out, being hesitant to approach a group to get to know them. Try as I might, I cannot reach out to everyone at the same time. Neither can the meeting organisers do it themselves. This is where especially those that are regulars in our midst can help. Besides growing spiritually yourself through the teaching, engaging others is also your role too. You can encourage the weak, call up new visitors to come for the meetings, sit with the person during the Fellowship meeting, and invite and include the person to join the conversation with your group of friends afterwards. Perhaps you may say “but I’m a quiet kind of person.” Then just look out for other “quiet people” that may be like you – after all, you know how they are probably feeling. Is there someone that you’ve seen around church but really don’t know much about besides his or her name? Use this as an opportunity to get to know them better. After all, he is likely to be a fellow citizen of heaven that you’ll spend eternity with! We often think of service as “doing something physically”. But in fellowships, your role in encouraging others is really to  do  what all Christian service ought to be – to build up Christians in the faith. Is this not a worthy cause? There is an opportunity for everyone to minister at Bible Studies and fellowships, and this is one of them. “Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

What about interaction between fellowship groups? While fellowship groups are intended to foster closer bonds between like-minded brethren, we must be careful not to end up getting too isolated from each other, nor should fellowship groups end up being inward looking. That is also why we have combined fellowships, and also why we encourage everyone to stay back and join us for the monthly lunch fellowships. As a family, these are our opportunities to get to know and mingle with others in the church. Children in families at home are not strangers to each other, and as children of God, we should also not be strangers to each other in church either. We must all realise that we exist within God’s appointed “unit” of being part of a local church.

So, this is why the church has organised many opportunities for us to gather together outside of the Worship Service. A verse that is often used in the context of marriage is equally relevant in the context of God’s purpose for you to be part of a church and its assembly: Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up”. Do you have a Biblical view of the purpose of Fellowship and Bible Study groups? If so, are you a regular part of at least one of the many Fellowship and Bible Study groups we have at church? And for those who feel left out in church, Prov 18:24 reminds us that, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly. . .”

Yours in our Lord’s service