Thursday, August 14, 2008



There are two dimensions of the fellowship principle. The first dimension is to share in life as in being partners in life. This dynamic creates an inner security and support system for those who participate.

The second dimension of the fellowship principle is to share with others in need. This has more to do with sharing with those who are in need physically. There are several categories of people in need that come to mind. When you come together, be aware of believers in need around you. This demonstration of fellowship was an integral part of the early fellowship experience.

Remember the description of the early disciples in the 2nd chapter of Acts. They had a sense of awe of the presence of God as they gathered together and "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:44-47)

When you come together, be aware of the needs of those around you. I am particularly struck with the way the Kingdom is practiced when it comes to the needs of those in the fellowship-they gave to anyone as he had need. This has been my experience as followers of Jesus participate in fellowship together. They have a sense of rallying around anyone who has a need and seek to meet that need. This may be financial or more than financial. When someone is sick or in trouble, when someone needs a job or when someone needs to be encouraged or challenged to make some changes.

When you come together, be aware of the needs of your teachers and those who minister to you. When Jesus called and sent out the Twelve on their initial assignment He instructed them: "Freely you received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support" (Matthew 10:8-10). This same understanding of sharing with those who minister to you is extended in Paul's letter to Timothy: "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages'" (I Timothy 5:17-18)

Several years ago Diana and I responded to a "calling" to follow Jesus more simply. A group of friends over the years continue to support us, so that we are released to study, pray, counsel, teach and minister to those Jesus brings our way in a full-time manner. It is a most humbling experience, yet we are free to work with anyone anywhere without having an agenda-especially a financial agenda. The monthly support is up and its down, but somehow the Lord continues to supply our needs as doors of ministry continue to open. We can think of no greater privilege than what we are doing right now.

We have also found new meaning to the term "tentmaker". Paul was by profession a tentmaker. He worked that business whenever he could in order to be free to minister to people without any hidden agenda. Also people supported him from time to time to get the job done. I am a speaker-a professional speaker, which means people actually pay for me to speak. The Lord has used this to supplement our support right when we need it. So, we do tentmaking from time to time.

However, I've come to realize that everyone who is a follower of Jesus is also a tentmaker. Your tentmaking is your occupation that you are paid to do. If you are a teacher, you are paid to teach. But in that paid occupation you have a greater calling and that is to pattern yourself after Jesus and to practice the Kingdom lifestyle. Even those of you who work for a Church are in a paid occupation-a job, but while doing your work you are to pay attention to the real calling and attraction to Jesus and the Kingdom.

When you come together, be aware of the needs of those who are sent out to do ministry outside of your local fellowship. This is especially true as God raises up leadership in other countries. You are not to just say, "We'll pray for you." You must think in terms of truly sharing with them, so that they are empowered to do what God has called them to do in the name of Jesus.

Paul says to Timothy: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (I Timothy 6:17-19). The fellowship must stand ready to share financially to underwrite and support the needs of the Kingdom of Jesus wherever it may spread.

Jesus and His early disciples were supported mostly by successful business women. Then, as the movement spread finances were always available through followers of Jesus who viewed themselves as Kingdom kids, feeling responsible to keep the Good News message and movement of Jesus spreading everywhere doors opened. When the fellowship is functioning properly, there is no need for heavy promotions. It all has to do with attraction to the irresistible Jesus and the irreversible Kingdom.