Thursday, August 4, 2016

They Had Us At, "Welcome!"

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Before I understood the Biblical implications of fellowship in a local church I personally experienced it's powerful impact! It is, in fact, the main factor in me being involved in a local church today.

Prior to that Sunday morning in 1960 we were not involved in a church. It wasn't because we didn't want to be it was because we never felt wanted or welcomed in any of the churches we attended. But the twenty-some people who made up the congregation at Silver Lake Wesleyan Methodist Church greeted us with warmth and sincerity. Since this was new to us we weren't quite sure what to make of it. As we left the church after that first visit we knew we would be back.

Entering the church on the following Sunday we weren't sure what to expect. We doubted we receive the same sincere welcome as we had the Sunday before. We were wrong! We were greeted as warmly as the previous Sunday! Perhaps even more so! They had us at, "Welcome!" 

Having "our own" church family that loved us and welcomed us and showed excitement over our presence! For the first time in our lives we had a church home! It felt wonderful! It was literally life-changing! Before the Word had a chance to change us their warm welcome did! The faithful folks at Silver Lake Wesleyan Methodist Church loved us to life.

Christian fellowship is powerful!

Rhonda Baker is a pastor at Sin City Church in Henderson, Nevada. Sin City is a dynamic rapidly growing church that is committed to loving people to life. And they are!

Rhonda knows about being loved to life. Coming out of a bad relationship and in a bad way she knew she needed something solid to hold onto. There was a young man named Randy who worked with her and he always seemed happy and positive. Intrigued by him she became friendly with him and they became friends. He invited her to his church and she experienced authentic Christian fellowship for the first time in her life. It rocked her world.

A few weeks later she found herself at a beer garden on a Saturday night alone in a crowd. This used to be where she came to have fun but this was not fun. The emptiness that haunted her soul stood in sharp contrast to the feeling she had experienced that Sunday at Princeton Wesleyan Church. She decided she would go back there in the morning.

She did. It was as she remembered and even better. That morning she knew Jesus was the answer she was looking for. From that day forward Princeton Wesleyan loved her to life. And Randy decided to love her for life and it was my pleasure to unite Randy and Rhonda Baker in marriage 36 years ago!

Authentic fellowship is powerful!

Charlie and Anne came to Parkway Wesleyan from a formal mainline church. They had friends at that church but had not experienced fellowship in the way they came to know it at Parkway. 

They are both very relational people and when they found out what authentic fellowship felt like, they were hooked. Previously, they had given all they understood about themselves to all they understood about God but in an environment of Christian fellowship they flourished! I was thrilled as their pastor, their Sunday School teacher, mentor and friend to share in the process of loving them to life. And over the last several years of my tenure at Parkway I watched them love others to life!

When Charlie and Anne retired and moved to the Myrtle Beach area and began to look for a church they knew to look for a church with authentic fellowship because they realize how powerful it is!

These are just a couple of many stories I could tell about the  of fellowship in a church committed to good "followship".

One of the ways that following Jesus pays great dividends is when it produces authentic fellowship. Fellowship is a fruit of "followship"!

Someone near you needs to be loved to life. Someone in your life needs to experience the power of Christian fellowship. 

Follow well!