Several months ago, we made the difficult decision to leave our church, and embark on the journey of finding a new one. I haven't written much about the process and I regret that some, because I think it would help to reflect God's faithfulness along the way ... in both the good and the bad.
One of the greatest challenges has been wading through the void that exists when you do not feel that intimate fellowship with your church family. Sure, the typical pleasantries are exchanged and people are more than kind and accommodating to our family. But this journey has dictated a season of reflection and required us to wait on God ... even for fellowship.
What we have missed is that inner circle of koinonia which causes our hearts to stir with a displaced grief. While we know it is present, we are just beginning to open ourselves up to that through establishing relationships and having intentional conversations.
Through a visual display, Don shared with us the two circles of interaction we have with fellow believers. The outside circle is where believers interact mostly on the superficial level of "fellowship" which typically looks more social than spiritual. It involves everything from the casual conversation of work and weather and can journey into the depths of health concerns and financial crisis.
I have to admit ... this tends to be my comfort zone, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We were reminded that in order to reach the inner circle of christian fellowship we must travel through this outer circle first.
Still, it is the inner circle that we most often neglect. As Don said, "...as normal as such fellowship should be to those who know Christ, if we don't cultivate it, koinonia gets choked out of our conversations by the weeds of words about other things."
To help make cultivating koinonia a deliberate process, he gave us this wonderful list of questions:
"Simple Ways to Turn a Conversation in a More Spiritual Direction"
1. How is your (teaching, hospitality, outreach, deacon, or whatever) ministry going? What do you enjoy most about it?
2. Where have you seen the Lord at work lately?
3. What's the Lord been teaching you recently?
4. Have you had any evangelistic opportunities lately?
5. Have you had any obvious answer to prayer recently?
6. What have you been reading? How has it impressed you?
7. Where in the Bible have you been reading lately? What impact has it had on you?
8. How can I pray for you?
9. What's the growth point in your life right now?
10. What are you passionate about right now?
-from Simplify Your Spiritual Life, Donald S. Whitney