A Growing Church: Staying Small

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The Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2 not only brought the Holy Spirit to the church, but also 3000 new converts. That meant the original group of 120 had to deal with 2500% growth overnight! How did they do it? They found ways of devoting themselves not only to prayer (as they had been doing, 1:14) but also to the teaching of the apostles (relaying what they had received from Jesus), to breaking bread (sharing meals in homes, likely including celebrating Communion), and to “fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They made intentional efforts to continue the culture Jesus had established and the sense of community they had shared, even as they grew larger. As we grow, we too must find ways of “staying small” as we get bigger.

 

 

Key Verse: 

Acts 2:42 -They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

 

Opening Discussion:

Describe a time when you felt like you were a part of a group that really bonded well (e.g. a sports team, a summer camp experience, educational cohort, family vacation, etc.). What kinds of factors made the group “gel” in such a way that it stands out in your mind? 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

On Sunday Jeremy shared that the Greek word koinonia(translated “fellowship” in the verse above) refers to a participation or sharing in something. It is a deeper form of mutual relationship than what we might think of as typical fellowship or socialization. With that in mind, read 1 John 1:1-7.

 

The word koinoniaappears (as “fellowship”) four times in the text, twice referring to a sharing with/partnership with each other, and twice referring to a sharing with/partnership with God.

 

What do you think it means that God calls us into koinoniawith himself?

 

 

 

 

What do you think it means that God calls us into koinoniawith each other?

 

 

 

 

What do you think John means by walking in darkness? How does this break our koinoniawith God?

 

What kinds of things (attitudes, behaviours, words) do you think break a sense of koinonia with each other?

 

 

 

John has a very unique way of writing, that comes through even in our English translations. How would you summarize this passage in your own words? Imagine yourself as an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Start with that experience (as John does) and then try to capture what he’s trying to say in words that would be more natural for you. Take a moment to write it out below, then share with your group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(After sharing you may want to look up Eugene Peterson’s rendition of this verse in the Message. Use Biblegateway.com or another online Bible).

 

Read Romans 15:25-27

 

Hidden in this passage are two occurrences of the word koinonia: first, the financial gift Paul is delivering to the poor in Jerusalem is literally called a “koinonia” (translated “contribution”); and second, he makes the point that the Gentiles have “koinonia”-ed (translated “shared”) in the spiritual heritage of the Jews. What kind of additional light does this passage shed on the meaning of koinonia?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

What might be some practical ways of living out koinoniain our church today?

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we have habits and behaviours (often rooted in past wounds) that make it difficult for us to participate deeply in relationships (e.g. avoidance, busyness, hesitance to open up, lack of trust, etc.). In other words, the biggest barriers to true fellowship can sometimes be interal. Is there anything that sabotages koinonia in your own life? How can you work to intentionally pursue deeper, spiritually significant relationships?