This is a follow-up post to an earlier one called What is Church?
I was 13 and studying in a mission school when I became a follower of Jesus Christ. The first church I joined was an unconventional one. Unconventional in the sense that there were no building nor weekend services that you would associate a church with. It was a fellowship of believers that met after school where I was studying.
The church was called a Christian fellowship and it was run by student volunteers. There were volunteers from the teaching staff and the FES providing council as well. With their help, I learned to pray, worship and read the Bible. We met weekly after school in one of the classrooms, where we have our worship session, followed by Bible study. Sometimes we even have a volunteer preaching a short sermon.
This church felt more like a community more than any church I would meet later in life. We gathered because of our desire to fellowship and to learn more about Jesus. We often meet outside of the meetings for meals (recess) to encourage one another, and when one of us faced challenging moments, we often gathered to comfort with whatever Bible verses we have memorised.
For our regular meetings, everyone contributed by dividing tasks from arranging the chairs to leading worship and Bible study among ourselves. We also did community work like visiting old folks homes and hospitals once in a while and organised evangelistic outreach events. With little resources but lots of eager believers, we gathered weekly and experienced church like the first-century Christians did.
So What’s Missing?
There were some things that we did not do during those Christian fellowship days. These were things that the ‘real churches’ do and I never understood as a teenager why they were not shared with us. On reflection, those of us who joined the Christian fellowship was not really considered Christians by the ‘creators’ of these Christian fellowships. Most of us were not baptised nor had any church membership with one of the ‘real churches’ then.
To elaborate, our Christian fellowship never tithed nor took the Communion. We also never baptised anyone like I just shared. These things are important to a Church (and I will speak more later, sorry) but they are not the only important things. People are also important and everything else that is also important in a church serves to minister to them. Hear what Jesus say about this when He called himself the Lord of the Sabbath:
“And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” – Mark 23-28
An Abrupt End…
Sadly, my association with my first church ended when I graduated from Secondary School. (You can only attend if you’re a student in the same school) and that left me with no choice but to seek out a more permanent church to continue in my faith. I took the opportunity to join a ‘real church’ and seeing how a few of my friends attended a popular Methodist church located in the city, I decided to pay them a visit one Sunday…