With the arrival of spring, campers once again are getting out their tents, popups, and RVs and heading out for new adventures. For me, my foray into camping as a regular part of life is relatively recent. Put together my love for organization, my fascination with tiny houses, and my realization that I could save lots of money at presbytery camp by tenting, and, "Voilà! I’m a camper!" The tent quickly gave way to a fabulous a-frame popup, and we now have our own unique tiny house.
Many travelers stay at state parks, KOAs, or other places especially designed for a variety of camping styles. What seems to be a common theme is lots of friendly people who are lined up in close proximity to each other. It has been interesting to note just how friendly folks are.
My husband, Mark, and I always enjoy walking through the camps, and one night, a kind gentleman offered us a seat and a drink. I’ve thought a lot about this since last summer. What makes campers welcome this kind of fellowship? Perhaps it’s because they are free from their usual responsibilities, and they have more time to sit around and talk with one another. Total strangers, just hanging out by the fire and talking.
These friendly campers make me think about our relationships in the church. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, which means “association, communion, fellowship, close relationship.” One place in Scripture where this word is used in reference to the members of the church is in Acts 2:42-47:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
I’d like to recommend a good, short read on fellowship in the church called Rules for Walking in Fellowship by John Owen. This book is part of the Puritan Treasures for Today series, and it outlines seven duties of a congregation to their pastor and fifteen duties for fellowship between members – all in less than one hundred pages! David G. Whitla, editor of this book (and incoming Professor of Church History at RPTS), notes that Owen “reminds us that church fellowship in the present ought to be a foretaste of the joy of the saints in one another and their Lord in glory.”
Perhaps you have longed for richer, deeper fellowship with the saints in your congregation, and perhaps it’s been awhile since you’ve offered up a seat and a drink to someone with whom you’ve worshiped for many years. You might want to consider getting a few copies of this book and working through it together with some friends from church. Campfire not necessary!