December 12, 2017

The Blessings of Fellowship Meetings

Don Johnson

This week I attended the Northwest Regional FBFI Fellowship meeting, held at Westside Baptist Church in Eugene, OR. If you are interested, you can find our preaching in video format on the church Facebook page.

Our regional meeting usually has around 20 to 30 pastors and several church people in attendance and this meeting was no exception. Due to distances in the west, those who attend tend to be those in closest proximity to the host church, but some of us travel many miles to make the meeting every year as the Lord enables. We aren’t the only fellowship meeting available – you could probably travel every week of the year to some kind of conference or other, if you had the time and the money. Since you can’t attend them all, you have to decide which ones to make a priority. I’d like to talk about the blessings of fellowship meetings as an exercise in thinking about which meetings we should attend and why we should attend them.

The fact is, most of us have busy ministries and can easily occupy our time with them every day of the year. We don’t absolutely need to go away … there is plenty to keep us busy and many needs press every day. Yet I find real value in coming aside with other Christians to renew friendships, refresh the mind, and revitalize the spiritual life. A particular passage comes to mind when I think about the kind of fellowship we have at our annual gatherings.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

The apostle says that he (and the other apostles) preach “that which they have seen and heard” (i.e. the true doctrine of Christ, 1 John 1.1-2) so that the readers (or hearers) might “have fellowship with us.” It is very true, those who preach the gospel do so in order to draw others into a spiritual relationship with themselves and the rest of the local church. The local church is a true spiritual partnership of born again believers, mutually aiding and strengthening one another by words and deeds. This is in fact the objective of our assemblies (Eph 4.11-16). I would suggest that those mutual ties extend beyond our local assemblies to Christians to far flung places around the globe. That is why you can find a welcoming hand in churches wherever you go, no matter how distant you are from other believers culturally. The emphasis of the New Testament is on the local fellowship, but the reality of New Testament life is present wherever Christians gather.

This fellowship is a driving and unifying force behind regional fellowship meetings as well. I don’t know of any Christians who don’t set aside some time for meetings of this sort. I didn’t grow up in a Baptist group, but every summer the churches connected with my home church sponsored a regional “camp meeting” which was well attended (and I think continues to this day). Why do we do this? We unite around the things the apostles saw and heard and repeat them to one another for the mutual benefit of all.

There is something unique in 1 John 1.3 which is more than just fellowship on a human level. I think this is the secret that drives Christian fellowship meetings. Let’s follow the logic of the verse. John says that he and the other apostles repeat the Christian message to the hearers:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you

This message is repeated for the purpose of fellowship “with us”:

that ye also may have fellowship with us

He then goes on to say “and truly our fellowship is with …” and one’s expectation of the language might be that he would say “…with us” so that the passage would read: “that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with us.” If John had said that he would be emphasizing the mutuality and reciprocity of fellowship on a human level. But that isn’t what he says. He goes on to say:

and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ

When you enter into fellowship with those who are preaching the gospel, you enter into a true fellowship with God himself, and with his Son Jesus Christ. That’s what makes a Christian fellowship meeting different from an Amway convention. That’s what builds local churches and has constantly driven Christians to hold broader meetings of the regional fellowship kind. We have been doing this for a long time. We love to do it. We love gathering in fellowship meetings, camp meetings, Christian camps, conventions, what have you. When that fellowship is centered on what the apostles saw and heard (the gospel) it is a true fellowship with the Father and Son, and it truly edifies and strengthens the saints.

That’s why we gather, and even spend money and undergo a measure of inconvenience to go some distance to join in fellowship with one another. This week some of us met in Eugene, Oregon. Others met in our South Regional Fellowship in North Carolina. We were edified.

This summer, June 13-15, we are planning on holding our National Fellowship Meeting in conjunction with the New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin. Why don’t you plan to join us?

I’ll post pictures below from our recent meeting in Eugene! We missed your presence, if you are one of our Northwest cohorts! Come to Monroe, WA next year.

Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.











Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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