Christian fellowship crucial for young adults’ faith walk
Are you drowning in the face of life’s challenges? Are you emotionally drained? Are you wondering whether following Christ is really “worth it”?
If so, when did you last spend significant time with people who pour into you? When did you last spend time with fellow believers in close, intimate discipleship?
Fellowship with other believers is vital for our Christian walk — for fun and laughs, and for encouragement, accountability and learning.
We ought to surround ourselves with people who will hold us accountable, call out our sins, encourage us, pray with us and talk with us about hard topics or passages of Scripture.
Without that support, I believe it is incredibly difficult for anyone to be actively growing in faith.
Many young adults are leaving the church, and a recent analysis by Pew Research suggests a decline in U.S. Christians over the next 50 years (see story, page 1).
Could the lack of genuine Christian fellowship be a contributing factor to this exodus?
Having deep friendships has encouraged me in my faith. When I have doubts about something happening in my life or questions about God, I know who I can go to.
In my experience, sitting alone, dwelling on doubts and questions is never beneficial. It always seems to lead to deeper doubt, more questions and an increase in anxiety.
It also tends to push me to find “peace” on social media or to ask my questions via a Google search box. Those platforms are not concerned with my spiritual well-being.
Twitter doesn’t know me and my struggles like my friends do. Facebook doesn’t love me and want the very best for me. Google is not a reliable theological sounding board.
Personal fellowship isn’t important because of the easy, fun times. Fellowship among believers is most important in the hard times, in the times when I’m struggling.
Those deep relationships have shaped my faith walk.
They keep me connected to God even when He feels distant. They encourage me and lift me up when I’ve had a hard day, week or season. They walk alongside me as I make the faith of my grandparents and parents my own.
I’ve never had this level of deep Christian friendship in my life before. I’ve also never felt connected to God in the way I do now — desiring to grow, commune with Him and see His glory reflected in the world.
I am sure that is not a coincidence. Staying connected with fellow believers has been integral for my staying connected to God.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But I’m an introvert. I’m really happy to be by myself and with my own thoughts. Being around people can exhaust me.”
But let me tell you what I’ve learned over the past year or so. When I’m with my closest friends, and we’re just spending time together talking — about God, our struggles, the funny thing that happened to us — I never feel drained. Quite the opposite actually. I leave spiritually and emotionally energized, knowing I have intimate fellowship with people I know I can trust.
This deep, personal fellowship cannot be found in corporate gatherings, and often I think it also requires something beyond a Bible study group. Both are important forms of fellowship urged to all believers, but meaningful one-on-one fellowship offers something different.
So this is my encouragement to you: Don’t settle for just going to church on Sundays and joining a Bible study or Sunday School class.
Be intentional and seek out friendships that encourage you and energize you in your faith. Nurture those friendships and don’t shy away from asking hard questions or having hard conversations.
I believe deep relationships with fellow believers will only deepen your love and knowledge of God.
Perspectives on Gen Z
Reaching the next generation is doable, but it can be difficult. It is obtainable, but it can be agonizing. It can be compelling, but it can be costly.
When you put your money where your mouth is and you take strong action to reach the next generation, you will find out who truly wants to and who truly doesn’t.
Pastor James Merritt
Cross Pointe Church
I’m personally encouraged by this generation of students. According to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 30% of Gen Z says, “religion is very important to them” (lowest in U.S. history).
But 78% say, “living a self-fulfilled life is very important to them.” This should be extremely eye-opening to us.
That’s the threshold to cross in communicating to Gen Z — help them see that a fulfilled life only comes from Someone outside of self.
“7 common traits of Gen Z in their own words”
“God just directed my path. Somehow He always knows best and gets us where we need to be.” said Chris Harper, who has received two kidney transplants in his life — one from his mother and the other from his wife.
“Our generations now are not looking at God … and we’ve got to give our kids something to hang on to,” said Charlotte Gray, who has led Bible Drill ministry for more than 50 years and is a member of First Baptist Church West Memphis, Arkansas.
“Food is a tool to reach people and tell them about Christ. We have more people who need food, [which] means we have more
opportunities to tell people about Jesus and what He can do for them,” said Jim Jones, who with his wife, Linda, founded Alabama Childhood Food Solutions.
“When we pray alone, the Lord is with us … but there’s an additional encouragement when we pray with others. As Paul said in Ephesians 3, we have ‘power with all the saints,’” said Claude King, former discipleship and church specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources, who has been helping people and churches make disciples for 30 years.
“God moved in many miraculous ways on this trip, from seeing lives changed to a new outlook on how hard work should be done” said Taylor Robinson, a missions team member of Thomasville Baptist Church in Thomasville, of three weeks of ministry in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “What I learned is there’s nothing more exciting than telling somebody about Jesus.”
“Even today, many people think if they go to church or if they read their Bible, then they are in good standing with God. This is the foundation of legalism, the idea that if I do the right things outwardly, then I am right with God. Instead, God is concerned with the condition of the heart,” said Robert Olsen, associate professor of Christian studies, University of Mobile.
“Eternity is at play, and we have the privilege to be part of the greatest story ever told.” Jeremiah Worten, senior at William Carey University and student summer missionary serving in Guam.
Begging for the Bread of Life
I served in South Asia. I saw a lot. But something I’ll never forget is this: “Woman,” she said. Eyes desperate. Skinny girl. Tattered dress and matted hair. “Woman,” she said with her hands held out, body shaking.
She looked back as if someone was watching her.
Poverty is real. It’s heart-wrenching. This was my first encounter with begging. Children who have nothing are forced by their elders to get money from anyone they can. My team was only allowed to give candy if this happened, so we would often have candy to give children in these situations. But hearing her call to me over and over and over again, it spoke to me in a deeper way.
This is what South Asia is like. This is its heart … begging. Begging for something to hold on to. Begging for truth and new life. Begging for Jesus. If only they knew that it’s a free invitation.
If only they knew Isaiah 55! Come! Buy and eat, without money and without cost. It’s free! Here! Accept it!
We need laborers. We need believers, who have been entrusted with the greatest news of our lives, to go and give this news to them.
L, a student who served in South Asia this past summer
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Been preaching for 35 years. To this day, every time I stand behind a pulpit I realize afresh and anew, that I could never do it without God’s call. That God called me still amazes me.
If reading the Bible causes me to scrutinize others more than I scrutinize myself, I am not reading the Bible correctly.
Disciple-making is not a solo act with your favorite online preacher, podcaster or author. It is a localized journey with other believers that requires an opened Bible, consistent gatherings, honest dialogue and mutual accountability.
Don’t be so quick to say “some churches need to die.” … This 110-year rural community church dwindled to 3 active members. Two years later, more than 60 gathered for worship. They’ve baptized 10 people including a (recent) lake baptism. Linwood Baptist is only one of 150 replants this year.
When Christians neglect to regularly read, study and meditate upon the Scriptures, other words from other gods inevitably begin to fill that discipleship void.
“But I believe the greatest enemy of the Bible is the so-called Christian who simply ignores the Bible or disregards it.” #AdrianRogers
God is faithful even in the midst of disappointment. No matter what we feel is being taken from us right now, we can place it in the hands of God. Give it to Him as our sacrifice. For whatever we willingly place in the hands of God, He will redeem.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” —C.S. Lewis
When asked, ‘What is more important: prayer or reading the Bible?’ I ask, ‘What is more important: breathing in or breathing out?’
There’s no insignificant service in the kingdom of God. Whether you’re rocking babies in the nursery, folding dozens of bulletins (some will totally ignore), or preaching the good news to thousands, it all matters, and is all used by God for His good purposes.