Picture: Mathew Sumner, Associated Press Over the past several weeks, I have been struck by something profound about the church. It’s simply this: fellowship is really important.
I have been somewhat skeptical of the word ‘fellowship’ over the years. For me, it conjures up images of clustered cliques. All too often disconnectedness, disjointedness, and rejection of others have all happened within the church within the guise of fellowship.
True fellowship, however, is rooted in communion and having things in common with others. That commonality is not based on external appearances and hobbies, but in the desire to experience unity and oneness that exists in the Body of Christ. Understanding fellowship in this light removes the cliques and points to Christ. The feeling of fellowship is a beautiful thing as long as the purpose of it points beyond ‘self’. The peace experienced within bonafide fellowship has a purpose.
In discussing the purpose of the church in this world, I was talking to a gentleman who sarcastically brought up the phrase 'holy huddle’ in reference to how the church practices fellowship. It was intended as a negative description, that is, congregations gathering together separate from this world in their own 'closedknittedness'.
But then I got to thinking: Isn’t the phrase 'holy huddle' a fairly accurate description of the church? In fact, shouldn’t our holy gatherings be even more of a holy huddle type experience? Huddles are about the quarterback sharing the vision of the next play. The mission of the team: To fight for ground down the field, and to score more touchdowns and field goals than the other team. Ultimately, the goal is to win! The huddle is a time of separation, but it has to be. It's a time to regroup, to rebuild, to reform, to plan, to rebuff, to recast, to rebuke and to encourage. But all this happens inside and within the game. The huddle is part of the game, not outside of it. It’s not like the huddle happens in locker rooms each time. Huddles happen out in the public for everyone to see.
There is a purpose to a huddle, and its purpose points beyond itself.
I wonder how effective church outreach would be if all congregations treated time together as a huddle. What if churches spent more of their time huddling together and dreaming and scheming how to advance forward with the Gospel? What would it look like if each Sunday was meant to regroup, to rebuild, to reform, to plan, to rebuff, to recast, to rebuke and to encourage? I think the result would be something similar to how the early church experienced fellowship. They learned to love well. They loved so well that the world couldn’t help but be convinced that this love is grounded in something real; namely, Jesus Christ. Do you think it is possible for the church to learn to love that again?