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What’s the most important change we’ve implemented at PBC in the past four years? Was it the work we’ve done to recapture meaningful membership? The shift from “business meetings” to “Members’ Meetings”? The transition to elder leadership? The redefinition of the deacon role? The incorporation of more focused prayer time in our worship gatherings? One member told me several months ago he believed the most important change was the introduction of Fellowship Groups.

Although I’m not 100% sure I agree with his assessment, I see his point. Few things have done more to broaden and deepen our love for one another. In fact, I would go so far to say that regular involvement in a Fellowship Group is the second most activity you can attend as a PBC member, behind faithful involvement in corporate worship. But why? What’s so important about Fellowship Groups? What’s the big deal?

Community is not a program, it’s a reality. It’s not an event, it’s a way of life. The ordinary Christian life should include many informal opportunities to experience community. But as a church, we also need formal expressions of Christian community in order to foster an environment where community is normal. We call that formal expression “Fellowship Groups.”

A Fellowship Group is a formal group of PBC members who commit to meet together regularly to cultivate gospel community with one another (Acts 2:42-47). The key word here is “cultivate.” Fellowship groups don’t exist to become the community (remember that community is not an event, activity or program). They exist to cultivate deeper experiences of community. So each member has a responsibility to model, encourage, and inject a lifestyle of community into the group. The group only exists to help further cultivate, facilitate, demonstrate, and display community.

When we say, “formal”, we don’t mean “rigid.” By “formal” we mean that everyone is making a formal commitment to meet, even when it’s inconvenient. By “formal” we mean that the Fellowship Group meeting and the people in the Fellowship Group become a top priority. Fellowship Groups are largely free to structure their group time however they would like (although we’ll offer some suggestions to help you get started). But a Fellowship Group is “formal” because the people in that group agree to say “no” to other things in order to say “yes” to each other.

So don’t think of a Fellowship Group as a time and date. Don’t think of it as only a meeting time during the week. Think of a Fellowship Group as a people—a specific group of people that happens to meet on one day of the week to re-center around the gospel and to encourage one another in the Christian life. Think of a Fellowship Group as people eager and joyful to display something healthy and glorious about God and the gospel. Think of a group as a people who want to steward our relationships and take ownership of the depth and quality of our life together.

Dear Christian, you need this type of community in your life. So if you haven’t yet, please sign up for a Fellowship Group before the year ends. I’m confident you’ll be glad you did.