How to destory a fellowship


This post might sound quite radical. Please bear with me on this.

I led a fellowship for two years. I repeatedly reminded that the biggest lesson I learn about fellowship was the moment I stepped down leading.

The first year, I have no idea what I was doing. The second year, I had even less idea what I was doing.

Though the second year, I tried a lot of things. I rolled up my sleeve and thought, “alright, since I am a leader. I gotta make this fellowship thing happened. It will be the best. I will give everything I have to make this happened. Then I will be doing God’s Work and be a good Christian.

So I picked up a book on how to form small groups in fellowship. I created a committee. I set down a year program. The Committee and I spent a number of nights hammering out every details. Ok, how are we going to do small groups. Who should go into who’s small group. How should we split. Everything has to be perfect because this is for God.

The plan never worked the way I envisioned. As a leader I got to lead my fellowship. I have to have a game plan. I got to have everything set up. Each small group has a leader. Check. Make sure we are doing more Bible study so we can become closer to Christ. Check.

And I was excited. And I sold my dream and my vision to my committee. They were excited. We will have the best fellowship ever. We will be closer to each other. We will be closer to God. We will make it happen.

And you know never happened the way intended. Some people felt it was awkward. Some people think this was not real. Some people resented the idea. But they went along b/c as I showed them the plan, they knew how much work my committee and I put into this (they knew b/c I told them).


That my friend…is how to destroy a fellowship.

I reflected on this…where did I go wrong? Why didn’t it work? It was so perfect. My plan was so perfect.

There was the caviar of the problem. It was my plan and my committee. I used my own strength to do God’s work. In the process of building a better fellowship, I lost the sight that the only way to build a fellowship of Christ is Christ Himself.

In the process of program, structure and finding the best way to build community, I focus too much on ME and not enough about Him. In fact, I so focus on my own talent and my resources that I forgot to follow Him. I lacked faith.

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community but the person who loves those around them will create community.“- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My ego and my pride of having a perfect program killed fellowship.

As the end of the fellowship, a number of people left. I was surprised by those who stay. This is God’s grace. Despite my self center ambition, God’s sovereignty still flow through.

If this is not the way to fellowship, where is ‘authentic’ fellowship? I looked at my own experience. Some of the fondest moment is outside of ‘fellowship’. Over coffee or beer. Just sit back and shared a meal. Chat about anything under the sun. Trying to figure out where’s God is leading us. That’s fellowship.

A brother is going to step up and become a new leader for my fellowship. I told him, “if you want to see authentic fellowship. Do this..scrap all the programs and all the meetings. Have one night a month on Bible study and spend the rest of the nights serving, driving around and loving one another.”

If I am leading fellowship again, this is what I would be. I wouldn’t ‘do’ fellowship, I would be part of a fellowship. I will let Jesus lead. I will have no safety net. I will walk blindfolded.

This might sound radical (indeed). Perhaps it is also our culture in a very work centric mentality (gotta do this..and do that). Perhaps it is because we are insecure that we can rely on Holy Spirit to lead and we have to take control of fellowship (oh we need programs..we need Bible study..we need to do more community service).

I cringe whenever one say, “we need to build community.” This is as real as going up to someone and say, “I am going to be your best friend by meeting three times a week for a year. Then for sure will be friends.”

Am I suggest that a fellowship doesn’t have programs or structures? By far no. Programs and structures do not build communities.

As Dietrich said, the person who loves those around them will create community.

We have to first love one another. Small steps with lots of love. As we love one another, community will form. And with community, programs and structures will form.

We need to discern and put the horse before the cart. Putting the cart before the horse will not go anywhere. Worst, it will choke the Holy Spirit.

In the process of leading, as I build the plan to break up into the small group, I was so driven in making it work..I forgot to love one another. Without love, everything we do is meaningless.

1 comment

  • I thing Bonhoeffer had something there. He’s one of my favorites. I’ll be praying for you and the fellowship in the days ahead.

By Cliff

Recent Posts

Recent Comments