This past Saturday evening we had perhaps the best Chili cook-off we’ve had over the past four years by every measure – more people, more chili, the quality of chili (delicious!), new people & longer-term members eating together and getting to know each other. Overall it was a good night and my hope is that it was only the first of many such gatherings and opportunities for us this year as we build up our community at St. Luke’s.
Being part of a church means being part of a church community. That community is strengthened through worshiping together, studying together, serving together, and of course through eating and laughing together – what most of us would call fellowship. Fellowship is one of those things that most all of us agree needs to take place to strengthen our church community, but many people tell me they are either too busy to participate in things like the chili cook-off, or they are comfortable with the people they already know. So, to help get us all on the same page, I want to offer to you an abbreviated guide to fellowship @ St. Luke’s:
1. Fellowship can and should happen as much AWAY from the church as it does AT the church. I hear of people from church meeting together for lunch or dinner or some other social gathering/event. Great! Truthfully, most of our “church” fellowship should happen away from church – fellowship should take place where we live our lives.
2. Most fellowship revolves around food – but not all! Inviting fellow St. Luke’s members to do an activity with you is a great way to get to know them – and for them to get to know you. Activities can be anything – kayaking, running a 5K, joining a campaign of your favorite role-playing game, watching a movie or concert, going on a trip, etc.
3. Not sure how to get to know new people at church (or anywhere for that matter)? Invite them to join you for lunch or breakfast after worship; spend a coffee hour or two speaking with just them, listening to find out who they are, and sharing who you are as well; agree to participate in a church event together (outreach or service events, or things like the Chili cook-off); send them an email, text, or phone call, introducing who you are and that you’d like to get to know them & see what happens from there.
4. Invite new people to join you occasionally when you do things with church members who are already your friends. Besides being hospitable, this is how our community is truly strengthened.
5. While fellowship takes place primarily away from the church building, there are also several good fellowship opportunities that do take place there. In fact some of these occasions even shape and form the way we see our church community. Some examples of this happening annually might be the Pentecost Picnic and St. Luke’s Day Festival. Happening more frequently is the weekly Wed. evening dinner at 5:30, and the monthly First Sunday Potluck after the 10:30 service.
6. While not everyone can make every event, keep an eye out for different fellowship opportunities such as Game nights, movie nights, or other special dinners or cook-outs that take place at St. Luke’s. On average, at least one “fellowship” event like the above happen once a month
7. Perhaps most important of all is that by spending time with our extended church family outside of worship, our own worship begins to deepen. Because our lives have crossed paths outside of worship and we better know those praying next to us, our prayers for our church and for our community carry a greater weight and are more sincere.
Every day I am thankful for the community at St. Luke’s, and for the friends and fellowship my family and I have found there. I look forward to spending many, many more evenings laughing together, sharing great food, and of course, getting to know you more.
In Faith, Hope & Love,