Fellowship in a Big Church by ALVIN SIM
All the passages below are taken from the book, “We speak of God,” published by the Barker Road Methodist Church in 2001.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV)
I remember BRMC in the mid-1980s. There were about 700 worshippers every Sunday who gathered in the simple building where high ceiling fans hung from wooden rafters. The weekly church bulletin included prayer requests and kept the congregation in touch with the needs of the church and even included newcomers’ names. After church, most people stayed for fellowship over coffee and finger food provided by generous volunteers.
Over the years the church grew quickly in numbers as families multiplied and as overseas students graduated and started to return home. I noticed that as the size expanded, the kampung spirit of caring for one another in personal and practical ways started to wane.
Upon graduation, I made it a priority to find a Small Group. God led me to a group near my home where I made new friends. The Small Group helped to personalise church for my wife and myself. Church became more than just a place we went to on Sundays. Jesus became ever present for me through the course of the week as I interacted with members of the body of Christ and witnessed the Holy Spirit working in all our lives.
Our activities involved Bible study (through book guides or videos), the occasional makan session and praying for each other. We posted our prayer requests via e-mail during the week and kept in touch with the travelling members that way too. In our large church setting, the sense of community was kept alive through the weekly fellowship meetings.
Being the two youngest members in our group, my wife and I have learnt much from the valuable fellowship and experiences of our group members. I am thankful for my Small Group, for always being there for me. They prayed for me and supported me emotionally all through my marriage preparation and two job changes. They also gave my wife and me the privilege of sharing in their joys and burdens.
We must remember the example of the early church in Acts 2:40-47. The early believers not only “continued daily with one accord in the temple”, but also went about “breaking bread from house to house“.
I believe the constant meeting of fellow believers within Small Groups reminds us of who we are. We no longer belong to this world; we have been born again into the kingdom of God. We are a new creation in Christ and God’s hand is constantly at work in our lives. However, we will only be able to recognise God’s work in our lives when we meet regularly to share our experiences, to give whatever help we can to one another, to reflect on God’s Word and seek God’s face together in prayer.
The close friendship and fellowship of a Small Group help create stability and constancy in an ever-changing world. It is an extension of our relationship with God. The church is and must mean a fellowship of believers, the body of Christ. The absence of fellowship may well lead to an absence of a Christ-centred community and isolated Christians, unable to fully experience the life of the body of Christ and life in Christ. Church will then be no different from any non-Christian organisation.
I pray and urge that all of us seriously consider committing ourselves to a Small Group. Small Groups are not just for the early Christians, they are important for every believer today. [192-193]
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)
Alvin is a lawyer. He and his wife Lynette worship at the 10.30am Shineforth service.