Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fellowship

Those of you who know me know of my disdain for the sanctified gorge-fest that is known as a church fellowship. Somehow, the concept of bearing each other's burdens in Christian love has been boiled down to green bean casserole served lukewarm in a potluck. I would imagine that more than 90% of the church use of the word fellowship involves food. Which is not what fellowship is about.

According to dictionary.com, here are the definitions for fellowship:

.1. the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind.
2.friendly relationship; companionship: the fellowship of father and son.
3.community of interest, feeling, etc.
4.communion, as between members of the same church.
5.friendliness.
6.an association of persons having similar tastes, interests, etc.
7.a company, guild, or corporation.
8.Education.
a.the body of fellows in a college or university.
b.the position or emoluments of a fellow of a college or university, or the sum of money he or she receives.
c.a foundation for the maintenance of a fellow in a college or university.
–verb (used with object)
9.to admit to fellowship, esp. religious fellowship.
–verb (used without object)
10.to join in fellowship, esp. religious fellowship.

Did you see food mentioned in there? Neither did I.



I was watching The Fellowship of the Ring today and this thought struck me. Frodo was at his most vulnerable when he was separated from the fellowship. When he put the ring on and had to face the Nazgul alone, he was injured and nearly killed. But when he stayed with the fellowship, they were there to guide and protect each other.

That is what saddens me about what our churches have done with fellowship. It has been taken from a concept of community where we guide, protect, love and support each other to a concept of expanding each other's waistlines. It's about food. We sit with the same people at the "fellowship" events anyway. Instead of involving ourselves in each other's lives, we feed our faces. We waste a valuable opportunity to build up the spirital side of the body. Instead, we choose to build the body mass, and let the spirit wither.

For more of my thoughts on this, go here and here.

This is a hard nut to crack, as I have discovered. It is an ingrained practice handed down from the Lord himself, just ask the fellowship diehards. It could be so much more. But alas, it is a celebration of Aunt Edna's Three Bean Salad.

Upon the advice of my doctor, I am swearing off potlucks. At least that is my plan.

3 comments:

bishopman said...

These crazy dinners are also stressful to ready for. Did you ever notice how so many people miss the worship gathering to go out and buy food or pick it up. In our old church, a guy left half way through to go buy some fried chicken. I see what you are saying. He abandoned the real fellowship to get his grub on at the superficial fellowship.

anne said...

I've never been to a church dinner. Do they invite the whole church? I have been to a picnic and a dessert buffet for our ministry teams. That's all I can think of though. Hmm. What other kind of fellowship is done in your church?

Rags said...

We have had ministry group dinners, and they are useful. I'm speaking of the all-church type dinners. I'm ok with having them, I just don't think they should be your primary fellowship strategy.

I did attend a church in South Dakota that chose to have its Thanksgiving dinner at the local church that served the needy. They would break into 3 groups - kitchen, serving, eating - and rotate. And they were very intentional about sitting with and talking to the people who came to the dinner. Not just sitting by themselves. I admire them for that.