Back of Dinning House: People would sit outside when the room was crowded
There is evidence that, as well as formal worship, informal fellowship with fellow believers has always been a feature of healthy spiritual life throughout the long, geographically wide, history of the Christian church. I always remember an old elder saying that believers are a bit like the embers on the fire; they meet together and there is warmth and a healthy glow, separate them and and the glow lessens… HOW TRUE.
If you are a non believer reading this you will not be able to understand the unity, encouragement, friendship, power of the Holy Spirit as well as sheer joy experienced by believers. I say this as someone who has, from time to time throughout life, been criticized for having many non believing friends!
Back in 2005 we started a testimony/fellowship meeting after the Sunday evening service, 8 30 at our home in Gargunnock near Stirling. It proved to be very popular with as many as 55 attending on occasion and people even sitting outside the patio doors. Young and not so young would sit on the floor! Here is the formula we found successful for anyone wishing to do similar:
First Sunday of each month except December April June and July- 8 meetings per year
Reminder by email with list of future speakers was effective
It was open to all denominations and indeed people of no faith were often welcomed.
8 30 : supper with a decent spread.
9pm : speaker.
9 30 : Questions – often (though not always) enlightening and edifying!
Two hymns or psalms chosen by speaker
More than half the time we had well known speakers; authors, businessmen and women, leading churchmen, all very different people but they had, without exception, miraculously and wonderfully come to faith. Quite often we invited ordinary people of faith and, believe it or not, they spoke extremely effectively and there was almost always that sense of blessing! God works in the lives of all sorts of people. No reason to be surprised by this; you just have to look at the very different followers of Jesus himself as he walked among us.
We stopped hosting meetings in late 2015 after 10 years, a similar or modified format of course can be used by anyone. Fold up plastic chairs are just £5 from Ikea, word soon gets round. We would quite often remember with horror that the “invasion” of a meeting was a few days away but by the time we were waving goodbye to friends from different churches we would, with a feeling of euphoria, be agreeing how worthwhile the meeting had been.
From recent blogging I have learned, surprisingly that many people with clear faith have become disillusioned with, and have even abandoned, formal worship. I would however urge you to find a good bible believing church and be surprised by how much you would benefit from meeting with fellow Christians. If some members in the church you join hold an extra informal fellowship meetings all the better!
To friends who are closed to spiritual matters, and in particular the resurrection and promise of eternal life for the believer, I ask this question?…How do you explain the testimony of 80 or so men and women, most of whom are professional, intelligent and influential in the 21st century? They all talk of that deep faith in Jesus Christ, guidance from God and the power of the Holy Spirit… Are they deluded? Are you in all honesty able to dismiss these believers as little more than idiots?
Maybe skeptics could dismiss them as weak in some way as well as deluded, perhaps my own experience as a boy witnessing the power of God in revival was just a bit of hype? However, despite my own lack of spirituality, I keep looking to the written word of God in the bible which consistently explains so many things which in the secular world of today remain a mystery.
Roman emperor Diocletian reckoned he had eradicated Christianity, most of the men of the enlightenment to whom we in many ways owe a debt of gratitude thought they had rendered Christianity impotent, communist regimes brutally tried but failed miserably to extinguish the light of the gospel. Many denominations of the church today in Britain have become a total laughing stock through the weakness and… dare I say it?… sheer stupidity of their leadership! Despite this, taking a global view the old hymn expresses the kingdom God progressing so well in saying .. ‘Like a mighty army moves the church of Christ’. Our Saviour himself said ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.
We would from time to time at the fellowship meeting joyfully sing the words of this old hymn which inspired the title.
Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey